Nucor's Mike Heine Testifies at House Manufacturing Caucus

Nucor, Vulcraft of New York, Inc.

House Manufacturing Caucus
Testimony of Mike Heine
Vice President & General Manager, Vulcraft of New York, Inc.
March 4, 2015

Michael Heine, Vice President & General Manager, Vulcraft of New York, Inc., testifies at House Manufacturing Caucus. (March 4th, 2015)

Congressmen Reed and Ryan, on behalf of Nucor Corporation’s 23,000 teammates, I would like to thank you for this opportunity. My name is Mike Heine and I am Vice President and General Manager of Vulcraft of New York. Our facility in Chemung, New York employs 315 teammates. Vulcraft is a division of Nucor and America’s largest producer of steel joists, joist girders and steel decking used primarily for nonresidential building construction.

The U.S. steel industry provides an excellent example of how trade policies impact American companies and their workers. Our industry is facing a real crisis as steel imports have reached historically high levels. This import surge is forcing many companies in the United States to idle facilities and lay off workers.

Finished steel imports increased an astonishing 36 percent this past year. These imports have captured 28 percent of the U.S. market; the highest percentage on record for the U.S. steel industry. The surge comes from all countries and cuts across all product lines. The countries with the largest increases were:

• Japan – up 11 percent

• China – up 68 percent

• Turkey – up 82 percent

• Russia – up 489 percent

Foreign imports are denying our industry the benefits of a growing U.S. economy. While we have seen growth in steel demand in the U.S. market, imports from less efficient foreign producers are capturing nearly all of that growth. Domestic steel shipments and production were up only 2 to 3 percent last year, and our capacity utilization was only 77 percent. This is not sustainable for our industry – it is hurting both employment and investment.

The only reason these less efficient foreign producers are competitive is through government subsidies and unfair trade practices. Trade cases provide the only near-term solution for stopping this cheating. But, recent court and WTO decisions have weakened the effectiveness of our trade laws, limiting our ability to fight back.

Therefore, as Congress debates Trade Promotion Authority legislation, it is important that you use TPA as an opportunity to address this cheating. We believe any legislation authorizing the President to negotiate new trade agreements should include strong enforcement provisions.

First, we support the ENFORCE Act which would hold foreign producers accountable for circumvention. Increasingly, foreign producers are trying to evade trade duties by mislabeling products or routing them through other countries to hide their true point of origin. The ENFORCE Act provides a process for American industries to obtain relief when trade remedies are evaded. It provides reasonable timetables for Customs to investigate allegations of circumvention and provides consequences if evasion is found.

Second, we support The Leveling the Playing Field Act sponsored by Senator Brown that would help undo some of the harmful rulings that have weakened our trade laws. For example, our government should have the authority to penalize foreign parties who refuse to cooperate.

Finally, we urge that enforceable rules against currency manipulation be included in any new trade agreements. Currency manipulation plays a big role in driving imports and our long-term trade deficit. We also support Congressman Ryan’s legislation allowing U.S. industries to fight back by treating currency manipulation for what it is -- an illegal export subsidy by foreign governments.

Presently, the U.S. economy is the shining star globally. By strengthening our enforcement, Congress can ensure that our steel industry and the manufacturing sector as a whole are able to realize the benefits of a stronger U.S. economy.

Thank you.