Industryweek 1716 Iw0311letters

Naive About Chinese Steel

Feb. 15, 2011
Chinese steel capacity numbers lead a reader to question free trade

I liked your article ["World Crude Steel Production Up 15% in 2010"] regarding world steel production, but would like to have seen the actual production numbers from the Asian countries instead of the percentages.

I believe we in the United States have been quite naive about the capacity that has been built in China over the past 10 years. If my numbers are correct, China has more steel-producing capacity right now than the entire world combined annually did from 1960 to 2002, about 700 million tons.

With the population increase and our consumption here in the U.S., I suspect our steel industry would be 2.5 times its current size if we manufactured what we consumed. This is of course if the Chinese and other nations didn't illegally peg their currency against the dollar.

Free trade is a myth to be debated at Harvard and the such. In the real world, it does not exist. Does anyone believe there is a "level playing field" between us and our competitors when they don't have to contend with EPA regulations, OSHA and the like? I'm not against those organizations because, frankly, they provide some civility to something that could not be.

Why do we allow companies to have access to our markets and hold them to a lesser standard than we hold ourselves? If we really believe in what we do, why do we not require our competitors to do the same? I would recommend a series of articles calling out these practices and expose our "competition" for who they really are.

David Johnson
Plant Metallurgist
Paragon Industries Inc.
Sapulpa, Okla.

Editor's note: The World Steel Association provided figures in its annual report for the top-10 steel-producing countries in 2010. China ranked No. 1 with 626.7 million metric tons of steel produced in 2010. Annual production for Asia as a whole was 881.2 million metric tons. The United States ranked third with 80.6 million metric tons produced. The following is World Steel's complete top-10 list:

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