FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NAFTA STEEL PRODUCERS WELCOME MINISTERS’ REVIEW OF SPP PROGRESS AND LAUNCH OF NORTH AMERICAN COMPETITIVENESS COUNCIL (NACC); COMMIT TO STEEL’S ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN NACC
Washington DC, June 16, 2006 — NAFTA steel producers welcomed events yesterday in Washington, which included a review of progress under the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and a first meeting of SPP Prosperity Ministers with the private sector leadership of the newly established North American Competitiveness Council (NACC).
NAFTA steel producers committed to participate actively, at the highest levels, in the NACC. From the start, steel has been especially active in the SPP and a critical component of its progress. Last June in Ottawa, Ministers from all three NAFTA countries announced they have formed a “strategic partnership” with this “strategic industry.” As a successful example of sectoral cooperation between NAFTA governments and industry, the North American Steel Trade Committee (NASTC) has, in recent months, developed an agreed steel strategy to promote growth, competitiveness and prosperity in the NAFTA region.
It rests on three essential pillars:
1. External Trade — eliminating distortions through policy coordination and other actions to ensure that NAFTA steel markets reflect fair trade;
2. Internal Trade — facilitating intra-NAFTA steel trade through enhanced monitoring and other proactive measures to reduce the costs of such trade; and
3. Industry Competitiveness/Productivity — enhancing the competitiveness of the steel industry in North America through innovation and market development.
“We are pleased that the Mexican steel industry will be part of the NACC,” said Octavio Rangel Frausto, General Director of the Mexican Steel Producers Association (CANACERO). “North American steel producers look forward to exploring with NAFTA governments ways to facilitate intra-NAFTA trade, improve the functioning of the North American steel market and enhance border infrastructure and cross-border Customs cooperation.”
“U.S. steel producers welcome the appointment of Louis Schorsch (CEO, Mittal Steel USA) to serve on the U.S. Executive Committee of the NACC,” said Andrew G. Sharkey, III, President and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). “While the NASTC will continue to implement the agreed steel strategy, we expect the NACC to provide a means to address important ‘cross linkage’ issues, including the need to (p.2) ensure available and cost-effective energy supply in the NAFTA region and promote the competitiveness of North American manufacturing through innovation and market development.”
“Transportation and the building of a world class, 21st century infrastructure in the NAFTA region are additional important cross linkage issues where North America’s steel producers expect to play a constructive role in the new NACC,” said Thomas A. Danjczek, President of the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA). “Steel is part of the solution to the competitiveness challenges facing North America.”
“Steel and manufacturing in general are critical to national defense and homeland security in the NAFTA region,” said David A. Hartquist, Counsel to the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA).
“The steel strategy and the NACC complement each other in the sense that both will focus on efforts to strengthen North America’s manufacturing base.” “NAFTA governments have a responsibility to ensure that globally competitive, efficient producers in North America can achieve market-based outcomes,” said Barry Lacombe, President of the Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA).
“In addition to focusing on ways to improve the efficiency of the private sector in the NAFTA region, it should be a top priority of the NACC to understand and effectively address the economic strategies of China and India.”
* Over the past three years, through the NASTC, North American steel producer associations (CSPA, AISI, SMA, SSINA and CANACERO) have been working closely with the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico to explore and define the key elements of a pro-manufacturing agenda for North America. The NACC will help intensify this work.
The North American steel industry supports the overall competitiveness, prosperity and security of North America. Steel producers in North America employ more than 1.5 million people through direct and related jobs, and contribute over U.S. $80 billion in annual sales revenue. The member companies of participating NASTC associations account for more than 95 percent of the carbon and specialty steel products made annually in North America.