US Steel CEO Mario Longhi told CNBC the company may be able to bring back jobs if regulations and tax laws are improved under the new administration.
I’d be more than happy to bring back the employees we’ve been forced to lay off during that depressive period,” he said, which “could be close to 10,000 jobs.”
CNBC’s Power Lunch panel asked him to clarify for former employees that were listening that he was in fact talking about U.S. steel employees. Longhi said he was, but later in a statement to CNBC, U.S. Steel said that Longhi was “referring to the American steel industry overall, not just to employees of United States Steel Corporation.”
When asked about trade law and protectionism Longhi responded:
“People use the word protectionism in an inappropriate manner. All that we have been looking for is fairness and that everyone operates under the same rule of law. Under that environment we can compete with anybody.”
The President-elect has said he will prevent jobs from going overseas. When asked how that might affect the steel industry and US Steel Longhi said there will be an acceleration of investments made in the U.S.
“We are already structured to do some things, but when you see in the near future improvement to the tax laws, improvements to regulation, those two things by themselves may be a significant driver to what we’re going to do,” he said.
It is suggested that the U.S. economy can grow at least 3.5 percent and “in that environment,” said Longhi, “we are going to grow significantly. “
When asked if growth will involve humans or robots and if automation kills jobs, Longhi said, “I don’t think it does, if you can grow. You can improve by putting some automation in place but if you grow, you certainly move jobs around in different forms.”
Longhi said regulation has an important role to play but that it “has to be done smartly.”
“When you get into some situations where we’re being asked to control some substances in water that are far lower than what nature naturally offers, that’s irrational,” he said. “So I think there are some things that really don’t need to be there. There was a point in time in the past couple years that I was having to hire more lawyers to try to interpret these new regulations than I was hiring … engineers. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Longhi noted that there is a new widespread optimism in the U.S. markets.
“I have not felt an environment of positive optimism, where forces are converging to provide for better environment in quite a while,” said Longhi.
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