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AISI LAYS OUT PRIORITIES IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT’S GOAL TO HEIGHTEN COMPETITIVENESS



Washington, D.C. – Commenting on the President’s State of the Union theme of competitiveness and job creation, Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) said:

We appreciate the President's recognition in his speech of the tremendous productivity gains the steel industry has made.   We do, in fact, have the most productive steel industry in the world.  Our achievements in reducing our emissions by 35 percent and improving our energy efficiency by 30 percent since 1990 are similarly noteworthy.  Our industry is the most energy efficient steel industry with the lightest environmental footprint on the planet.  Coupled with our abundant raw materials, this is simply the best place in the world to make the steel that the world needs to develop, improve our quality of life and to become even more energy efficient.  We can compete with anyone, as long as trade is truly free and fair, and we do not impose unreasonable, unilateral requirements on our industry that many of our international competitors have no intention of adopting themselves.

To achieve the President’s goal of energy independence and harnessing clean energy, we support creating an abundant and affordable energy supply by developing the full range of energy sources available in the United States, including domestic oil, natural gas, nuclear power, clean coal resources, and wind and solar power.   It’s essential that we make all these sources of energy part of the nation’s energy independence strategy moving forward.   In particular, we believe natural gas is a strategic domestic resource that can help drive economic recovery.  Government policy should support the further development of shale natural gas resources, not discourage it. 

At the same time, our climate and energy policy must take into account our international competitors and how the cost of compliance with government policy can alter the competitive balance in the marketplace.  EPA regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act will harm the competitiveness of domestic manufacturing, shifting American jobs and emissions to unregulated nations.   Congress must act to prevent this misguided plan from undermining our efforts to promote economic growth and job creation.

We also agree with the President’s comment that ‘winning the future’ will require taking on challenges that have been decades in the making.  In the trade arena, we appreciate progress the Administration has made on trade law enforcement.  However, the massive trade imbalance we have with China that has claimed 2.4 million American manufacturing jobs still must be addressed, and it will require continued toughness to get China to play by the rules.  The fact that China operates with a built-in 40 percent competitive advantage by undervaluing its currency is a prime example of the kind of structural issues that put a huge barrier in the road to America being able to compete effectively.   AISI will continue to urge the Administration to declare China a currency manipulator and press Congress to pass currency reform legislation, similar to ‘The Fair Trade Currency Act’ that passed the U.S. House of Representatives late last year.   

The president also noted the importance of new technology development to the success of American manufacturing, emphasizing the need for funding for new technology R&D.  We urge the Administration to include manufacturing R&D in this effort, as it is critical to our nation’s continued competitiveness.  America’s high-tech, sustainable steel industry is an important industry of the future that will continue to achieve global leadership on the strength of our advanced technologies.   However, currently, funding for government-industry partnerships to develop new breakthrough technologies is at an all-time low within the Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program (ITP)—this at a time when government-industry partnerships to develop new steelmaking technologies in Europe stand at over 500 million Euro over five years.  To win the future, appropriators should take heed of the President's call to action and revitalize the ITP program to accelerate the development of breakthrough technologies in steel and other manufacturing sectors.

The President also said that winning the future requires rebuilding America’s infrastructure.  We agree and have long maintained that an effective and efficient transportation infrastructure directly impacts the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector, creates significant demand for steel fabricated products, and creates valuable jobs.  Likewise an improved water infrastructure would greatly benefit the country and the economy. The challenge, which the President, has not yet addressed, is how to pay for these needed investments.  We urge the Administration and the Congress to work together to fund the significant infrastructure capital improvements needed by our nation without further delay.”

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