June 13, 2024

Biden investments will restore manufacturing capacities: USW leader

Through the employ of anticompetitive strategies, China’s overwhelming manufacturing output forces many producers out of the global market. Namely, American steel and aluminum producers who are at a disadvantage in scale, undermined by China’s over-capacities and devaluing of precious metals. But that may all change as President Biden has signed off a new round of tariffs on China that may turn the manufacturing competition on its head.

The United Steelworkers (USW) International VP Roxanne Brown joins Executive Editor Brian Sozzi to talk about the pains domestic steel plants and local communities have felt through China’s manufacturing encroachments, as well as the Biden administration’s investments into American industry past these new tariffs.

“President Biden, today, really expanded the [Sanction] 301 tariffs, but on top of that, he has laid across investment policies — not just tariffs — but an investment policy to help domestic industry grow in the future. We’re not talking about a short-term solution, we’re talking about a long-term, generations-long solution,” Brown explains.

Brown anticipates steel prices to “level out” in the wake of these tariffs as capacity returns to manufacturing hubs and confidence returns to the US economy: “Hopefully that’s a message a lot of Americans hear. It [the economy] feels strong and we see it across a lot of our sectors where companies want to hire because there is so much work to be done.”

Catch Brian Sozzi’s exclusive interview with President Biden where he discusses what these new trade tariffs hope to achieve.

This post was written by Luke Carberry Mogan.

Video Transcript


So uh great to have you.

Welcome to Yahoo Finance.

Thanks for having me.

So uh lots of uh new towers, target towers by the body administration.

Talk to us about some of the challenges you’ve dealt with as it pertains to trading with China.

Well, for our, for our union, for the Still Workers Union, this is uh a very long story that goes really back to the eighties when we’ve had to use our trade tools to actually help defend domestic industry and jobs.

Um but right now we’re in an environment with our president that totally gets it who has an industrial policy that he’s laid across the economy and is recognizing that tariffs are a key part of that policy.

What has China done on the steel front?

I think a lot of folks have just normally heard China is dumping steel.

What exactly does that mean?

So basically what that means is and, and, and China is in a, in a, in a place right now where for the last, you know, really several years they’ve been um overproducing products in their steel sector, right?

And so there’s more steel than they can consume in China.

And so what are they doing?

Sending that to the world?

But the bulk of it comes here in the United States and it’s being done that really cheap prices out into the global marketplace.

And so that directly impacts steel facilities here in the United States and their ability to compete, they can’t compete against that.

And so what happens instead is that you have domestic steel facilities that will reduce capacity, which means a reduction in jobs and impacts to communities uh that surround steel facilities.

What what should we expect expect in the wake of these tariffs with steel prices.

What happens to that?

You know, I think they uh level out right, and they come to a place where domestic industry can be profitable, which is really, that’s really the game.

When it comes to tools like tariffs, it’s about creating space for domestic industry to not just um grow but thrive really.

And I think a big part of what the president did today, particularly in the clean tech space is to create space for these really nascent new uh sectors of the economy of the US economy to actually grow and develop and the supply chains that are related to them, which is where a lot of the steel, steel worker jobs are.

What was your experience under the the Trump administration?

Because we’ve heard the former president talk about how he has been, he’s helped to, he’s been a friend of the manufacturing space.

Did you see that?

Um So what we saw was, um, you know, uh tariffs that were placed on steel and aluminum largely because um our union really pressed hard about what was happening during the Trump administration.

Those two industries were in really dire straits and our union along with others, um really implored the administration to do something for us.

It, it really doesn’t matter if there is an R or ad we care about those who are gonna care about our members, right?

And the industries that they work for.

Uh President Trump uh place 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports coming in.

President Biden today, uh really expanded the 301 tariffs, but on top of that, he has laid across investment policies and not just tariffs but an investment policy to help domestic industry grow into the future.

We’re not talking about a short term solution.

We’re talking about a long term generations, long solution to help grow domestic industry in this economy, in this, in this, in this country.

And that’s what President Biden has done.

Uh President Biden has taken a lot of a action, let’s focus on say the inflation reduction action, but a lot of industrial policy, whether it’s building new chip factories in this country, you need steel in these buildings to build this.

What has been the impact of this administration’s various industrial policy?

Um It’s been positive, it’s been really positive and we’ve seen some uh uh increase in capacity at some of our facilities across the country and for our union it’s really not just steel.

I like to say we’re the union of everything.

You know, we have critical uh materials, mining, paper, glass, um and across a lot of our sectors, we are seeing facilities that are increasing capacity, increasing uh hours of work.


As they’re working to produce the products that are necessary for the clean energy economy.

And that’s wonderful.

That’s what we wanna see.

Does the economy feel strong?

Uh Yes, yeah, I and I, and I um you know, I hopefully that’s a message that a lot of Americans here, it feels strong and we see it across a lot of our sectors where uh companies wanna hire because there is so much work to be done, right?

And they wanna hire and we’re trying to help them to hire the folks that they need to produce the products that they do here domestically.

Lastly, what is the next decade look like for America’s steel sector, promising promising.

And I would not have said that um four years ago and I say that largely because of what happened today, but also the trifecta with the bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Chips and Science Act.

That’s quite literally laid a foundation across our US economy for domestic industry and manufacturing workers to grow.

They, it will be catapulted into the future.

And so, uh, we are hopeful of the promise.

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