A steel plant that has been idle since December 2015 is reopening due to President Donald Trump’s announced foreign import tariffs. The facility had closed due to unfair trade practices, according to US Steel’s CEO, David Burritt, that harmed profitability. While some were skeptical that the tariffs would bring back steel jobs, this could signal what may be to come.
“We’re really excited to be able to tell our employees in the community in Granite City, Illinois, that we will be calling back 500 employees,” said Burritt, according to a report by CNBC.
Two blast furnaces will be restarted at the steelmaking facility, though the entire restart process could take up to four months to complete.
Burritt asserted that the facility was originally rendered idle in December 2015 due to unfair trade practices.
“If you don’t have customers here to sell to and you can’t make money, you have to shut them down,” said Burritt.
He also thanks Trump for the tariffs, a move he called “courageous leadership.”
Last Thursday, Trump proposed a plan that would impose tariffs on steel imports, at a rate of 25 percent, as well as aluminum imports, at a rate of 10 percent.
The move was considered controversial both on Capitol Hill and on Wall Street, and is regarded as a significant contributing factor regarding top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn’s decision to resign from his position. Cohn was openly opposed to the tariffs.
“You’ve got to be able to make stuff in the United States,” said Burritt. “If you take away our ability to make things, you don’t really have a society.”
Burritt stated that Trump’s decision “feels like the beginning of a renaissance for us.”
“Just think about the way the UK used to have a big manufacturing base,” said Burritt. “If you don’t make stuff, you can’t have a strong country. You can’t protect yourself, and you go by the way of Greece or maybe Puerto Rico.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asserted that the White House isn’t trying to “blow up the world” with the tariffs. He also indicated that Trump would be open to offering exemptions to US trading partners, Canada and Mexico, if an agreed upon rework of NAFTA could be obtained.