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Prenzler, Bost say Trump steel tariff move is step forward

EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said President Donald Trump’s decision on Thursday to place tariffs on companies dumping foreign steel on the U.S. market is a step in the right direction.

prenzlerussteelTrump imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum that could take place as early as next week.

“Madison County workers were impacted by foreign steel dumping,” Prenzler said. “I’m hopeful this announcement will help our laid off steel workers.”

U.S. Steel Granite City Works laid off 2,000 employees more than two years ago. Currently, about 700 men and women returned to work at the plant.

“Unfair trade practices by China and South Korea caused hundreds of our local steelworkers’ hardship,” Prenzler said.

Prenzler just returned from Washington D.C. where he met with decision makers on this issue. He met with U.S. Congressman Mike Bost as well as officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce, American Iron and Steel Institute and U.S. Steel.

“In my opinion, Congressman Bost has been a persistent and effective advocate on behalf of our local steelworkers,” Prenzler said.

Bost serves as co-chair of the Congressional Steel Caucus. He encouraged the president to take action on imported steel and to impose tariffs and quotas.

“Action against China and South Korea is warranted,” Prenzler said. “My concern is the president might paint with too broad a brush and invite retaliatory action from other countries.”

U.S. Steel Corp. is one of the world’s largest steel manufacturing companies. The company is an important player in the global oil country tubular goods (OCTG) market.

“The Granite City plant produces specially designed steel for the oil and gas industry,” Prenzler said.

One year ago, Trump ordered the Department of Commerce to make a Section 232 report. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 grants the president authority to limit or restrict imports that are determined to have an impact on national security.

“Steel for oil and gas drilling is essential to our national security,” Prenzler said.

The Department of Commerce released the report in January and gave the president options to impose tariffs. The report said the United States was the world’s largest importer of steel and its imports were nearly four times its exports. The document became public last week.

“I’m hoping the president’s decision results in U.S. Steel re-starting the blast furnace in Granite City,” Prenzler said. “This would result in hundreds of local steelworkers going back to work.”

PHOTO: Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler met with U.S. Steel Corp. representatives, Jennifer W. Lindsey and Todd D. Young, in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

Bost also praises president’s actions

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, co-chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced a 25 percent across-the-board tariff on foreign steel imports:

“I’m very encouraged by President Trump’s critically important decision,” said Bost. “As the Department of Commerce Section 232 investigation indicated, the domestic industry has suffered greatly at the hands of global steel overcapacity and unfair trade, which threatens our national security interests. We’ve seen the harm that unfair and illegal trade practices have done to our steel industry right in Madison County, with the idling of Granite City Works and layoffs at Alton Steel. Today’s announcement is a bold step forward to stop unfair trade practices so American steelworkers can continue to make American steel that supports our military, critical infrastructure, and the livelihoods of American families.”

The purpose of the Section 232 investigation is to determine whether imports are harmful to national security and whether measures should be taken to protect domestic industries critical to national security. The Commerce Department report summarizing findings from the Section 232 investigation was delivered to the President on Jan. 11, 2018. The Administration had 90 days following the delivery of the report to decide on any potential action.

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