From port congestion and infrastructure bill to “Green Steel” – SSS Conference in Miami tackles a myriad of issues affecting steel industry and trade

U.S. President Joe Biden’s announcement about passing the much-discussed infrastructure bill coincided - almost - with the opening of the Steel Success Strategies (SSS) 2021 conference, held from Nov. 7 to 9 in Miami.

The conference, which had top executives of major steel companies such as Nucor, U.S. Steel, Cleveland Cliffs, etc. as speakers, discussed a myriad of issues of interest to the steel trade and industry, ranging from steel tariffs through congestion at U.S. ports and modernization of infrastructure to reducing carbon emission in steel production.

Many delegates applauded President Joe Biden for the bipartisan infrastructure bill which he had described as a “once-in-a-generation investment that’s going to create millions of jobs, modernizing our infrastructure – our roads, our bridges, our broadband … to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity”.

The infrastructure investment will also include modernization of ports and airports; President Biden declared that he would visit some of the ports. Developing freight rail will also be promoted to remove the bottlenecks in distribution of goods. “It’s going to make it easier for some companies to get goods to markets more quickly and reduce supply chains’ bottlenecks now and for decades to come,” he said, reminding that America’s infrastructure used to be rated as the best in the world. “Today – according to the World Economic Forum, we rank 13th in the world.”

The steel industry has praised the infrastructure bill with Kevin Dempsey, the President/CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), describing the sentiment within the steel industry as “very supportive” of it. “The bill will provide the much-needed finance for infrastructure development,” he told the American Journal of Transportation.

“Passing this bill provides a tremendous boost to our industry, as demand for American steel could increase by as much as five million tons for every $100 billion of new investment,” he said.

While the infrastructure bill will create jobs and is emphatic about using steel produced in America under the “Buy America” slogan, steel-consuming industries are worried that locally produced steel, which is more expensive than imported steel, is causing a rise in costs. Dempsey argued that “steel prices are driven by steel demand just as we have seen the rise in prices of other products”.

Some delegates wondered if the Biden administration would rescind the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact of 12 nations, including the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region. The TPP, a pet project of the Obama administration, was aimed to support America’s pivot to Asia. However, after President Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP, Japan took the lead and cobbled together with the remaining nations the trade pact’s new avatar called the Comprehensive & Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“I personally don’t think the U.S. will move to join the…

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