Steel Institute 'Cautiously Optimistic' on State of the Union Speech

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For Immediate Release
January 28, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The head of the nation’s largest trade association representing steel producers today said that while President Obama’s State of the Union speech laid out some positive objectives, the proof will be whether or not he provides the tools and support for specific plans to achieve them. Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) made the following comments in reaction to the speech:

“I am cautiously optimistic about some of the goals the President talked about to grow manufacturing in the U.S, and encouraged to hear him talk about the importance of improving our infrastructure, enhancing energy policies and promoting fair trade. And I am pleased he picked U.S. Steel’s Irvin Plant to visit the next day to reinforce his messages, which hopefully will continue to illustrate the critical importance of steel to the nation’s economic recovery. As I have said before, however, the devil will be in the details on how the Administration is going to achieve our shared manufacturing goals.

“For example, the President must couple his efforts to open up markets with actions to ensure strong enforcement of our trade laws by addressing the import surge we are facing in steel and working with Congress to pass tougher trade enforcement legislation like the ENFORCE Act. We also hope his plan ensures ongoing trade negotiations include remedies for currency manipulation, as called for by the majority of Congress, and strong and enforceable disciplines on state-owned enterprises.

“We have often urged that the President should articulate a national vision for how to rebuild America’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure– which is important to move steel products and is a steel-intensive market – and are pleased that he has proposed some ways to start rebuilding. And while we appreciate his efforts to cut red tape and streamline project delivery through Executive Orders, which we wrote to him on earlier this year, transportation infrastructure is an area where the President can show some real leadership. Further, we look forward working with Congress and the Administration on a transportation funding plan that includes a dedicated source of revenue to meet current needs and future demand.

“Also, on tax, as expected he called for a lowering the corporate statutory tax rate and simplifying the tax code. In his efforts to do so, he must work to make sure the tax code maintains incentives to promote increased investment in domestic manufacturing facilities and equipment here in the U.S., and promote competitiveness globally.

“On energy, we support the President’s goal of energy independence and harnessing clean energy; however, we are concerned that several key federal agencies are currently undertaking efforts that could limit the amount of domestic oil and natural gas resources available for access and production. The President’s remarks, unfortunately, did not go far enough to discourage actions by his Administration that might duplicate regulations on natural gas development already in place at the state level.

“We will continue to work with the Administration on all of these issues to make sure these promises become real, for steel,” Gibson concluded.

Contact: Lisa Harrison
202.452.7115 / lharrison@steel.org

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AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 24 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and nearly 125 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI's member companies represent approximately over three quarters of both U.S. and North American steel capacity. For more news about steel and its applications, view AISI’s Web site at www.steel.org.