A former CEO of Charlotte, North Carolina-based steelmaker Nucor Corp. has been appointed to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, with specific responsibilities for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
The World Trade Online news service, in an online posting, says it has obtained a document spelling out DiMicco’s new role. American Metal Market has reported receiving emailed confirmation from DiMicco himself that he will be fulfilling the transition team role.
The USTR describes itself as being “responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries.”
Its website’s home page currently is being used to tout the merits of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The TPP was a campaign issue in the 2016 election, with first Bernie Sanders criticizing’s Hillary Clinton’s public support of the agreement, and then Donald Trump criticizing her for changing her stance on the TPP.
DiMicco, both in his role as Nucor’s CEO and particularly in his capacity as a former chairman of the Washington-based American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), has been harshly critical of the steel exporting activities of China and other nations.
Metals producers have been among the foremost critics of China’s behavior as being at odds with its goal of being accepted as a market economy nation.
Arlington, Virginia-based The Aluminum Association, on its website, calls for “a series of common sense measures on the part of the U.S. and Chinese governments to ensure a level playing field where all global aluminum producers can compete fairly.” The association also states, “Subsidized production in China, which is leading to unfair and illegal trade practices, threatens the industry’s continued health.”
The AISI has been decrying what it considers the unrelenting output of finished steel by Chinese state-owned enterprises for several years. AISI’s position, as stated on its website, is that “China – a nonmarket economy, a significant exporter and by far the world’s largest steel producer – has disrupted world markets through state support of expanded production of steel and steel-containing products.”
The overcapacity in China and subsequent mass exporting of steel has reduced the output of steel producers in North America and has reduced global demand for ferrous scrap, say critics. With China’s steel output being overwhelmingly iron ore-dependent basic oxygen furnace production, much of the market share it has taken away from steelmakers in other parts of the world is made via the scrap-dependent electric arc furnace method. The result has been lower steel and lower ferrous scrap prices in the U.S.
Should the Trump administration propose or make meaningful changes to the U.S. trading relationship with nations including Mexico and China, as Trump has declared on the campaign trail, it would reverse what has been a largely bipartisan policy of liberalized trade that has lasted several decades.
An audio interview with Dan DiMicco conducted in 2015 by Recycling Today Senior Editor Dan Sandoval, in which global trade is one of the topics, can be found here.