China was very much top-of-mind for senior steel executives in the USA at the recent AISTech convention in Cleveland, Ohio,USA.

Andrew Harshaw, CEO of ArcelorMittal USA, told delegates assembled for the Town Hall Forum on 6 May, that while the US economy was healthy, the steel industry was the complete opposite, thanks to cheap foreign imports flooding the US market from South Korea, China and elsewhere in the world.”It’s a difficult market,” he said, explaining how automotive is strong but is hampered by imports.

Nucor’s vice president Michael Lee said he was an optimistic guy and that, where imports were concerned, the US steel industry needed government support. “I’m excited about our future, we have the brightest and the best and we can compete against anybody. Put us on a level playing field and we can kick anybody’s butt,” he said.

US Steel’s senior vice president David Rintoul said the US steel industry had two choices: to be a victim or a player. “And this industry has chosen to be a player,” he said. “We’re innovative and we remain competitive in difficult circumstances. It’s tough out there, there’s no question about that, but we must be as efficient and as effective as we can.”

Steel Dynamics’ president and CEO Richard Teets argued that the steel industry was not looking for protection. “We want fairness,” he said.