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US Iron Miner Helps Launch Ad Campaign to Sing Tariff Praises

Sept. 14, 2018
Cleveland-Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves: "We’re not an industry of the past, but an industry of the present.”

Some U.S. companies have reacted to the divisive issue of metal tariffs by saying as little as possible. Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., on the other hand, has not only publicly backed the levies, now it’s putting up money to sing their praises.

The U.S. iron-ore producer says it’s deploying a promotional campaign with other companies that touts the benefits of President Donald Trump’s steel tariffs. Targeting voters in iron- or steel-producing states including Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio, the ads will begin to run this month and through October, ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, spokeswoman Patricia Persico said by phone. The ads will run as banners on media websites directing people to the campaign site Keep America Steel Strong.

“We’re not going to be even talking about the tariffs, we’re going to talk about the jobs that they generate,” Cliffs Chief Executive Officer Lourenco Goncalves said in an interview. “This is a campaign explaining to the public that we’re not an industry of the past, but an industry of the present.”

The decision to launch the ad campaign comes amid criticism that Trump’s 25% tariffs on steel imports are hurting the makers of products that use the raw material. Opponents have said the import barriers may raise costs, lower earnings or force employers to lay off workers or move operations offshore.

Proponents have been working to protect the tariffs, publicly and behind the scenes. Cliffs said that the proposed digital ads are the second part of a campaign under the “Keep America Steel Strong” banner. The first phase targeted members of Congress and their staff to garner support for the U.S. trade policies. Persico declined to comment on how much they are spending on the campaign, or which other companies are involved -- though an ad on the website says it’s paid for by “American steel producers.”

By Joe Deaux

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Licensed content from Bloomberg, copyright 2016.

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