Commenting on 18 April when President Donald Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order was due to be signed-off, the president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) said it was a positive step in ensuring full enforcement of existing Buy America laws and ensuring the steel industry remains competitive.

“Strong Buy America domestic procurement preferences for federally funded infrastructure projects are vital to the health of the domestic steel industry, and have helped create manufacturing jobs and build American infrastructure,” Gibson said.

“The foundation of a strong Buy America programme is the longstanding requirement that all iron and steel-making processes occur in the US for a product to be Buy America compliant – from the actual steel production to the finishing processes. This ‘melted and poured’ standard has been successfully applied since 1983 and must continue to be the standard used in federal Buy America rules for steel procurement. We applaud President Trump for affirming his commitment to full and effective enforcement of our Buy America laws, and to addressing the issue of unfairly dumped and subsidised steel...”.

Philip K. Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) also commended President Trump for signing the executive order to “Buy American and Hire American”. The executive order will help maximise the use of domestically produced steel in federally funded infrastructure projects. This will also help minimise waivers and exceptions to 'Buy American' requirements.

“This is an important development that will benefit 21st Century steelmakers," said Bell. "By signing this executive order, the President confirms the significance of the 'melted and poured' standard, which requires all manufacturing processes take place in the US in order for steel to be considered produced in the United States. This standard is crucial to ensuring that the benefits of ‘Buy American’ are felt throughout the steel industry and its supply chain.”

Bell added, “We applaud the President’s efforts to support the domestic steel industry and address the issue of unfair trade. It is now incumbent upon Congress to help ensure that Buy America laws are effectively implemented, administered and enforced.”

According to a 16 April report in the Los Angeles Times, however, of the 39 orders and presidential memorandums signed by Trump, fewer than half ‘made a substantive change’ to federal policy. The newspaper reports that 16 of the directives ‘simply told Cabinet agencies to study a problem and come with recommendations’ and of those that did change policy the courts have blocked two.

The newspaper reports comments by John Hudak, deputy director at the Centre for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution, who said that Trump’s early executive actions were simply ‘not well thought through’.