US president’s State of the Union address gets mixed reviews from steel industry

US president Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12 drew a mixed response from US manufacturers and metal market participants.

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Some industry leaders welcomed the president’s emphasis on manufacturing, while others were concerned by the spectre of carbon regulation and unanswered questions about trade.

The president focused on economic growth and job creation, praising the manufacturing sector for adding 500,000 jobs in the past three years.

“We are pleased the president seems to recognise the contribution of manufacturers, like our nation’s steel industry, to a strong economy. And we were encouraged to hear him talk about the importance of growing manufacturing, enhancing our infrastructure and promoting fair trade,” Thomas Gibson, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said.

“However, he didn’t provide many specifics about how his administration is going to do those things. The speech was a mixed bag of admirable goals with uncertain outcomes and was missing some important details,” he added.

The Steel Manufacturers Association also responded positively to the president’s plans for manufacturing, which include launching new manufacturing hubs and revamping the nation’s ageing infrastructure.

“We fully support the objectives of a manufacturing resurgence,” Adam Parr, the organisation’s director of policy and communications, told Steel First sister publication AMM. “Domestic steelmakers are competitive and supportive of [the president’s] pro-growth objectives.”

But while some groups hailed the focus on manufacturing, the president’s discussion of greenhouse gas regulations put some on high alert, with industry sources concerned that the president’s proposed action to reduce carbon emissions could stifle the growth of the industry.

“We will urge legislators not to support the president’s obstructive carbon dioxide regulations,” Parr said. “This is largely the responsibility of Congress, not the executive branch, and is in direct conflict with the jobs that we need to responsibly create.”