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Global News
2019-8-15

August 15 (LTIT) –The US reaching a trade agreement with China is not something that is going to happen quickly and will require a collective approach from other countries, US Steel CEO David Burritt said Wednesday. "I think this is a very long journey," Burritt said, speaking at an event held Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Technology Council. "I think there will be progress because I think the right thing is to have these rules of order that everybody complies with. You can't have countries opting out, and it's going to take a collective agreement from the most important countries to say here is the way we will operate with China, here is the way we will operate across country borders, and it needs to be fair." China needs to be held to a set of rules and regulations in line with the expectations in other countries, he said. "You can't have someone devaluing their currency at will, you can't have subsidized products, polluted air and standards that are so much lower than what are required in the US and expect there to be fairness," he said. While Burritt said it's difficult to guess what the outcome of these trade negotiations will be, it's likely the issues won't be resolved prior to the 2020 presidential election. "I think step by step we get the improvements, but the idea that this gets done in an agreement by the time of the election, I will be surprised," he said. "I think there will be a small step forward, but this is going to be a negotiation for at least a decade." Looking beyond China, Burritt said he expects the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement to pass, bringing with it better rules of origin related to steel. Additionally, he said he expects Canada and Mexico to do a better job at safeguarding their own borders from unfairly traded steel, a condition set by the Trump administration when it removed the Section 232 tariffs on the countries' steel exports in May. But ultimately, with a president that has made renegotiating trade deals such a strong focus of his administration's work, things are going to continue to change in the markets until a deal is reached, Burritt said. "The tough part I think for many of us who like consistency, like predictability, like to know what tomorrow looks like, this president is always in negotiation mode so the thing we're learning is we have to be more nimble. We have to shut down some blast furnaces for a short time and see what happens and be able to start them back up to meet our customer demand."

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