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US steel companies face downturn after tariffs

In the 10 months since the Trump administration imposed 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports, prices in the United States have now fallen back to levels last seen before the tariffs were announced March 1. Hiring in the steel sector remains stagnant, in part because new mills have become more reliant on automation. Even with the opening and restarting of several mills last year, direct steel industry employment was 146,300 as of November 4 per cent lower than it was four years ago, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Industry analysts estimate that steel companies made 50 announcements of plans for new mills and investments last year and that three dozen plants were built or restarted.

Investors are increasingly wary about the industry’s long-term strength. Stock prices for some of the nation’s biggest steel manufacturers dropped by as much as 47 per cent in 2018 amid fears of slowing global economic growth and the potential for Trump to reach trade deals that remove the tariffs.

The Trump administration imposed sweeping steel and aluminum tariffs on trading partners like Europe, Canada, Japan and Mexico, saying it was trying to protect US security by preventing a flood of cheap metals into the United States. The tariffs, which went fully into effect in June, initially goosed steel prices in the United States, which jumped more than 50 per cent after it became clear that the tariffs would really be put in place.
Source : THE SPEC
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