Trump’s Tariffs Help the U.S. Steel Industry

February 07, 2019

Editors note: this letter to the editor is a good rebuttal to a wrongheaded anti tariff piece by the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

The Trump administration’s policies are also benefiting the broader manufacturing sector.

Your editorial “Steel Tariff Profiteers” (Feb. 4) ignores the facts of the global steel-overcapacity crisis and the long-term damage imports have inflicted on steel producers in the U.S.

While conditions in the U.S. steel industry, which directly and indirectly supports more than two million American jobs, have improved recently due to the administration’s trade actions and tax and regulatory reform policies, this comes after 10 years of low capacity utilization and weaker earnings due to repeated surges in imports fueled by global steel overcapacity.

The Trump administration’s policies are also benefiting the broader manufacturing sector. In 2018 manufacturing-sector industrial production growth was at its highest since 2011, manufacturing payrolls increased the most since 1997 and real GDP growth is likely to have matched its highest rate since 2005. This climate, and the Section 232 tariffs, have enabled key planned investments in the steel industry to move forward, create jobs and contribute to economic growth.

One year of profitability in the steel industry doesn’t make up for years of damage from the sustained and ongoing import surge. The president’s steel tariffs will help ensure steel producers remain at the forefront in developing the most advanced steel products.

Thomas J. Gibson

President and CEO

American Iron and Steel Institute


The tariffs helped the steel industry by keeping illegally subsidized steel from being dumped in the U.S. market. As a result, the capacity utilization rate for our industry last year was 78.3%, its highest annual rate since 2008. It was even higher across Nucor steel mills. Because of our pay-for-performance system, increased production means bigger paychecks for Nucor teammates. In 2019 we will have six new projects begin operations, representing $1.2 billion in capital investments and creating nearly 800 new full-time direct jobs with our company and over 4,000 indirect jobs. Adding jobs takes time. For example, the three new steel mills we are currently constructing can’t be built overnight.

We have long said that given a level playing field, U.S. steel companies can compete with anyone in the world. The tariffs are a tool to renegotiate our trading relationships with other countries and create lasting structural changes that get every country playing by the same rules. That is how we will achieve truly free trade.

John Ferriola

Chairman, CEO & President

Nucor Corporation

Charlotte, N.C.

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