September 2018

A lot of people moan about Donald Trump – and for good reason – but the US steel industry is as happy as Larry with how things have turned out, and who can blame them? Trump isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, in a 'political' sense, but his trade actions are doing the US steel industry many favours: Prices have surged upwards, imports (in May) fell almost 21% and John Ferriola, president and CEO of Nucor Corporation, said: “It’s a good time to be making steel.”

And while not everybody would agree with Mr Ferriola’s statement, made at the recent Steel Success Strategies conference in New York, the fact that he can talk about end markets stabilising or improving, increasing orders and a sense of optimism, has to be a good thing .

A big criticism of Section 232 tariffs outside of the USA has been the threat of an all-out trade war with China. Well, maybe, but look at it from the USA’s perspective. Or listen to what Philip K Bell of the Steel Manufacturers Association has to say. Turn to page four of the magazine and you will  find that Mr Bell is the subject of my Quote of the Month. Bell, quite rightly, points out that the USA has spent millions of dollars on anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases only to find that ‘another bad actor’ has emerged or that ‘companies cheat through transhipment and circumvention’.

Bell has a point when he says that the USA has been in a trade war for years and let’s face it, where China and overcapacity is concerned, its been top of the agenda at many steel conferences for countless years, leaving observers like yours truly wondering why so little had been done globally – except in the USA. I’ve commented many times in the past on how the Americans appear to be the only nation seemingly grabbing the bull by the horns (with anti-dumping and countervailing cases).

In many ways, Section 232 was a last resort. The USA tried to plug the holes more conventionally with anti-dumping and countervailing cases, but in the end it had to resort to something a little stronger: the security of the nation.

The US steel industry needed Trump – or somebody like him – to go that extra mile and sort out what was an ailing US steel industry. Now it looks as if everything is tickety boo, but that hasn’t stopped people murmuring about how the good times won’t last forever. My view? Make hay while the sun shines.

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September 2018 highlights

2 Leader by Matthew Moggridge, editor of Steel Times International

4 News and Facts – Facts and figures, news and diary dates

6 Innovations – the latest new products

10 Latin American Update – Industry 4.0: the steelmaker's view

12 Iron Ore – Kami's massive benefits

14 Conference Report: Steel Success Strategies 2018

Rolling Features

20 The US flat roll market

27 Live rollings mill contracts

Digital Manufacturing

34 Industry 4.0 – the digital transformation of steel


39 Furnaces – Improving furnace performance

General Interest 

48 Perspectives: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

52 History – Tim Smith reviews David Boursnell's book about naval armour-plate manufacturing from 1860 to 1916