Ross Says Tariffs Working Despite U.S. Steel Plant Layoffs

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(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Steel Corp.’s decision to close a giant plant in Michigan and lay off as many as 1,545 workers doesn’t mean the import tariffs placed on steel and aluminum by President Donald Trump aren’t working, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.

Many of those laid off at the U.S. Steel facility outside of Detroit will be able to find work in nearby General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. plants, Ross said in an interview Friday with Bloomberg Television. The problem with U.S. Steel’s Great Lakes plant, Ross said, is that it was just too high-cost to run.

“What is happening is they are rationalizing a bit their production so that they will be more competitive in the future as we continue to go forward,” he said.

In 2018, after the tariffs were put in place, several steel companies announced plans to boost production. Those included U.S. Steel, which restarted two blast furnaces in Granite City, Illinois, that year. But on Thursday, the Pittsburgh-based company warned of a fourth-quarter loss and announced it will shut down most of its Great Lakes Works facility, lay off workers and slash its dividend. The company’s shares fell 11% to $11.86 at 2:47 p.m. in New York.

“There has been much more capital invested in the steel and aluminum industries,” Ross said Friday. “On balance, they have both added jobs.”

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