TOLEDO — As the Biden administration engages in talks with the European Union about dropping tariffs on its steel exports, many U.S.-based steel producers are concerned about the threat that relaxing those trade measures would have on Ohio's economy.
In 2018, Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act was used to impose 25% and 10% tariffs, respectively, on some steel and aluminum imports to help level the international playing field.
The E.U. exports nearly 24 times more steel to the U.S. than all North American exports to the E.U.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, said it could be detrimental to Ohio and the country if the tariffs are removed.
"We have an opportunity to resuscitate the steel industry if we hold the line on this," Ryan said. "As we move to wind and solar and electric vehicles, we want to green the planet. So we should use the greenest steel and the cleanest steelmaking process in the world, and that's here in the United States."
Ohio's steel industry employs nearly 39,000 people. In May, the U.S. and the E.U. announced diplomatic discussions to address global steel and aluminum excess capacity, among other industry concerns.
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority has played a key role in economic development in northwestern Ohio for decades. The authority helped invest $28 million in the land of a former oil refinery, and in 2020, Cleveland Cliffs, the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America, opened its direct reduction plant at the former site.
Thomas Winston, president and CEO of the port authority, said investments are an important way to advance the steel industry and invest in economic well-being in Ohio.
"So it's really important to ensure that the steelmakers and companies such as Cleveland Cliffs are able to compete and provide job growth and opportunities, support our national security and have the ability to enhance our efforts to reduce pollution," Winston said.
Cleveland Cliffs' direct reduction site uses more sustainable production practices that contribute to the company's goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions 25% by 2030 from 2017 levels.