18 MAYIS 2016
Longhi Touts Innovation Amid Challenging Environment
United States Steel Corp. President and CEO Mario Longhi exhorted the steel industry to pursue innovation as leaders met Tuesday for the Association for Iron & Steel Technology's 2016 convention at David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Yet in addressing the future of steel, Longhi also couldn’t avoid touching on the issues of foreign trade and global overcapacity that cloud his company’s and his industry’s future prospects.

For much of the 12-minute talk, Longhi detailed the role of technology and the disruption it often brings to the business world, including the history of technological innovation in steel. Yet he also expressed frustration the improvements and training of U.S. Steel’s (NYSE: X) employees represents progress that’s hard to measure.

United States Steel Corporation President & CEO Mario Longhi.

“Unfortunately, a lot of their great work over the last year has been overshadowed by challenging business conditions....largely driven by the biggest disruptor and threat to the steel industry, global overcapacity,” said Longhi.

One big problem: Cheap foreign imports of steel.

”The short term impact on our financial results is bad enough,” he said. “But when we can’t generate enough profit to properly invest in technology and innovation and the development of our people, then our future competitiveness will be jeopardized.”

It was a subject that spilled over into the media session after the speech, where Longhi was joined by John Ferriola, president and CEO of Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE); Tracy Porter, president of Commercial Metals Co.; Philip Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association; and George Koenig, a director for Hatch Associates Inc., and AIST's current president.

They said the industry isn't looking for protection from foreign steel competition but only a fair playing field, and added American-made steel is now cost competitive with anywhere in the world, thanks to strong access to natural resources, lower energy prices and less expensive logistics.

Longhi said he expects a decision in the next week or so on U.S. Steel’s filing of a 337 trade complaint with the International Trade Commission, a petition under the U.S. Tariff Act the company hasn’t used since 1978. The complaint alleged Chinese producers of price fixing, intellectual property theft and circumvention of trade duties by false labeling.

“This is a dynamic situation,” Longhi told a group of journalists. “All that we’re asking is for is for the rule of law to be preserved.”