We can all agree that Minnesota is blessed to be home to more global companies per capita than nearly any other state. These companies do, in fact, contribute to our quality of life. The Iron Mining Association of Minnesota’s member companies, including United States Steel, Cleveland Cliffs and Arcelor Mittal, are among those global leaders that also provide thousands of good-paying jobs here in Minnesota. Indeed, Minnesota’s mining and manufacturing sectors have been and continue to serve as a critical component to our state’s economic well-being.
However, a recent commentary writer’s suggestion that imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum “will cost Americans their jobs and result in a trade war that America cannot win” is simply not based in fact (“Tariff threats are bad for state,” March 7) . There is no hard evidence to support these assertions.
Foremost, those opposing President Donald Trump’s decision on steel imports are completely ignoring the basic premise of his decision — the U.S. Commerce Department’s detailed findings that steel imports threaten our national and economic security. As recently stated by U.S. Steel’s CEO, our “national security is only as strong as American steel: It depends on the domestic industry’s ability to manufacture steel from start to finish. A weaker or nonexistent American steel industry leaves our nation dependent on countries focused on their economic interests and well-being, not ours. That leaves our country vulnerable, which is not a position the United States should ever be willing to accept.” In fact, U.S. Steel’s recent decision to restart its Granite City Works blast furnace will utilize iron ore from Minnesota’s iron mines, the first stop in America’s proprietary steelmaking process.
To suggest that the president’s decision based on Section 232 (which gives the executive branch the ability to conduct investigations to “determine the effects on the national security of imports”) will start a trade war “that America cannot win” is, at best, greatly overstated, if not totally unfounded. Trade enforcement actions are common. Altogether, the Commerce Department maintains 411 anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders spanning more than 40 countries, including both allies and strategic competitors. Moreover, fear of retaliation should not, and cannot, deter the U.S. from defending its national-security interests by using all tools available, including Section 232. It is important to keep in mind that the Section 232 action is necessary following years of global overcapacity growth fueled by nonmarket government support — primarily by China — that now threatens our national security and economic welfare.
Minnesota has a long and proud history of iron mining on the Iron Range. For more than 130 years, our state has produced the raw materials required for the American steel industry’s blast furnaces and steel production. In recent years, the Minnesota iron mines, our workers and the communities on the Iron Range have faced very difficult economic circumstances due to the continued onslaught of unfair and often illegal steel imports flooding the domestic steel market. On behalf of those workers, families and communities relying on the iron mining industry, we applaud the president’s action and support his goals to protect our ability to ensure the country’s national security with a strong and vibrant American steel industry.
Kelsey Johnson is president of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota.