Trade Representative Ron Kirk spoke about the possibility of the United States pursuing legal remedies when other nations violate trade agreements during a speech at United States Steel Corp.'s Edgar Thomson Works plant in mid-July.
Kirk's stance on trade issues resonated with Nucor Corp. President and CEO Dan DiMicco, who issued a statement nearly a week later praising the ambassador for his comments. "On behalf of Nucor's 21,000 employees, I want to thank Ambassador Kirk for renewing the U.S. commitment to trade enforcement," DiMicco said in a July 22 statement. "As he noted in his speech last week, the global trading system is based on rules all parties have agreed to abide by. When those rules are broken and enforcement is not pursued, the system does not work."
Kirk acknowledged that some trading partners, including China, have violated U.S. trade rights and said enforcement will be a centerpiece of the Obama administration's trade policy. He accused China of unfairly restricting raw-materials exports, such as manganese and coke, keeping the prices of these products lower for Chinese producers than the global market price.
"Our new approach to enforcement is simple. We will deploy our resources more effectively to identify and solve problems at the source," said Kirk in his prepared speech. "But make no mistake: We will pursue legal remedies when other options are closed."
DiMicco, an outspoken critic of U.S. trade policy toward China, echoed Kirk's sentiments.
At A Glance
Primary Industry: Primary Products
Number of Employees: 21,700
2008 In Review
Revenue: $23.7 billion
Profit Margin: 7.74%
Sales Turnover: 1.71
Inventory Turnover: 9.78
Revenue Growth: 8.19%
Return On Assets: 42.61%
Return On Equity: 18.63%
"The lack of aggressive enforcement of trade laws has been devastating for our economy and the country," DiMicco said. "We have lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs over the last 10 years and run up staggering trade deficits. Our trade imbalance has made us a nation of consumers, not producers, and is at the heart of our current economic crisis. In order to have a truly meaningful economic recovery, we need to reduce our trade deficit and create good-paying jobs. That begins by enforcing the rules of global trade."
Specifically, DiMicco has pointed to national policies that have favored Wall Street traders over domestic manufacturing, according to an April 9 Birmingham News article citing a speech DiMicco gave to the city's Downtown Rotary Club. DiMicco demanded that the United States return to post-World War II trade policies that include the enforcement of trade agreements with overseas partners and encouraging the production of intermediate and finished goods instead of financial speculation, the paper reported.
The day following DiMicco's statement on Kirk, Nucor reported a $133.3 million net loss for the second quarter of 2009, compared with a profit of $580.8 million during the previous-year period.
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