Steel Products

AISI's Gibson to Keynote SMU Steel Summit Conference

Written by Tim Triplett

As President and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, Tom Gibson is the front man for an industry whose views are not always the most popular. Gibson will be a keynote speaker at Steel Market Update’s 2019 Steel Summit, scheduled for Aug. 26-28 in Atlanta. This will be Gibson’s first speaking engagement at what has become the premier steel conference in North America.

AISI is a strong supporter of Trump administration trade policies, including tariffs on the United States’ closest trading partners Canada and Mexico. And if called upon, Gibson says, the industry is ready, willing and able to provide the steel for President Trump’s Border Wall.

“Obviously, there’s a political discussion going on right now between the Congress and the president. But if a barrier is built, it should be built out of steel, and the industry is ready to respond with the steel that’s needed,” Gibson commented in a recent radio interview.

Reports out of Washington indicate that Congress has reached a compromise on border security that will provide $1.38 billion for 55 miles of barrier construction, only about a quarter of the $5.7 billion requested by the president. Trump is expected to sign the measure this week, albeit grudgingly, to avoid another government shutdown.

Gibson reiterated AISI’s support of steel tariffs and its opposition to congressional legislation introduced last week called “The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act.” In a press release, he stated that the measure would “prematurely” terminate the tariffs.

“The administration’s trade actions and tax and regulatory reform policies, in addition to the strong economic climate enabled by those policies, have allowed the American steel industry to begin to recover after more than a decade of low capacity utilization and weaker earnings due to repeated surges in imports fueled by global steel overcapacity. Capacity utilization at existing mills has increased in recent months to over 80 percent—levels not seen in the last 10 years. Some shuttered plants are being re-opened, laid-off workers are going back to work and companies are making investments in new steel production facilities,” Gibson said.

“But this recent progress will disappear, and our steel industry will again suffer dire circumstances, if the tariffs are prematurely terminated. The massive overcapacity in steel still exists globally. And China in particular is producing steel at record levels—exceeding one billion net tons in 2018. This means there is plenty of excess supply that will flood into our market but for the continuation of the Section 232 tariffs. The Section 232 trade remedy is critical to ensuring steel remains a vital asset for our national and economic security,” he added

As a SMU Steel Summit keynote speaker Gibson will address such topics as trade and trade policy, new capacities and other topics that are timely and important for the approximately 1,000 executives in the manufacturing, distribution, production, fabrication of flat rolled and plate steels in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Prior to joining AISI, Gibson led the advocacy programs of the American Chemistry Council and the Portland Cement Association. He has also served as chief of staff to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrators Christine Todd Whitman and Michael Leavitt and staffed the Senate Environmental Public Works committee. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Gibson holds a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. In his remarks at Steel Market Update’s summit, Gibson will share an insider’s view of the latest happenings in Washington and what they mean to both suppliers and consumers of steel.

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