Maris Research

Consequences of Trump’s steel tariffs hurt two Pennsylvania mills

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The same fire that melts the butter hardens the egg.

That “same fire” in Western Pennsylvania, the birthplace of American steel, was President Trump’s Section 232 tariffs. They hardened the barrier against steel imports while melting the aspirations of steelmakers who were relying on imports.

Western Pennsylvania is home to US Steel, the iconic steelmaker that in its early years was known simply as “The Corporation.” It was America’s biggest steel producer for virtually the entire 20th century.

USS and other large integrated steelmakers welcomed Trump’s 25% across-the-board tariffs in March 2018, which would serve to tighten domestic supply, paving the way for higher steel prices and improved profit margins.

Two other Western Pennsylvania steelmakers didn’t fare so well. Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), once America’s largest stainless steel producer, and NLMK USA’s Pennsylvania mill, the former Sharon Steel.

Both made strategic plans to use imported slabs – semi-finished steel – to roll into sheet steel, and had foreign partners to do so. ATI teamed up with China’s Tsingshan Group in 2017 for a Pennsylvania rolling mill project dependent on stainless steel slabs from a Tsingshan mill in Indonesia.

NLMK’s offshore slab supplier was its Russian owner.

Trump’s tariffs made

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