SteelAsia unperturbed by steep US tariff plan

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2018 - 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines — SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp., the country’s largest steel company, said the plan of the US to slap tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports will have no direct impact on the Philippines.

“The Philippines is not a big trading partner of the US for steel. So, there will be no direct impact,” SteelAsia president Adrian Cristobal Jr. said in a statement over the weekend.

Cristobal said the new US policy may, in turn, benefit the Philippines.

“Indirectly, the new policy may divert commodity steel products from the US market to other markets, including Asia, which could benefit us,” he said.

Last Thursday, US President Donald Trump said the new tariffs on steel and aluminum were aimed at China as part of ramped up efforts to clamp down on dumping and unfair subsidies of foreign goods sold in the US.

“We don’t believe there will be supply issues for construction steel as a result of the new US policy,” Cristobal said.

In 2017, among the top supplier of steel to the US were Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico and Russia, Turkey, Japan and Taiwan.

SteelAsia has a capacity of 2.3 million metric tons, with six plants strategically located across the country.

The company announced last December that it is investing $1.5 billion together with its foreign partners to build an ecosystem of steel-based industries in the Philippines.

No further details of the project was disclosed but SteelAsia said the $1.5 billion investment is the first step towards building an integrated steel industry for the country.