* Nucor CEO says U.S. trade laws reactive, not proactive
* Calls on China to stop funding inefficient steel producers
* Second-quarter earnings-per-share $0.27 vs est $0.30
* Average selling price per ton falls 7 pct
By Garima Goel
July 18 The chief executive of U.S. steelmaker
Nucor Corp urged policymakers to restrict cheap imports
of Chinese steel after a slump in prices contributed to a fall
in the company's quarterly profit.
John Ferriola said U.S. trade policy had been too slow to
address the issue of imported steel sold at subsidized prices.
He singled out imports from China, the world's largest
steelmaker, as being particularly harmful to the U.S. economy.
"The current trade laws simply are not getting the job
done," Ferriola said on a post-earnings conference call. "They
are reactive, they are not proactive, and we need a more
proactive approach to trade laws."
Sluggish economic growth and excess capacity in the global
steel industry have weighed on prices and eaten into the margins
of U.S. producers. Nucor said its average selling price per ton
fell 7 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier.
The American Iron and Steel Institute, a trade association,
said in February that steel imports to the United States were
expected to grow for the fourth consecutive year in 2013 to the
detriment of U.S. steel producers.
"If not for dumped steel and subsidized imports, we would
have more production and more jobs in the United States," said
Ferriola, who met senior trade officials in Washington this week
to flag his concerns.
"Put simply, the key ingredients required for healthy and
sustainable U.S. economic growth are jobs, jobs and more jobs."
Charlotte, North Carolina-based Nucor announced a 24 percent
decline in second-quarter net earnings attributable to its
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
In 2010, the Commerce Department slapped anti-dumping duties
on oil country tubular goods (OCTG) from China.
A group of U.S. companies that produce OCTG - specialty
steel pipe used to drill for oil and gas - launched a separate
trade case this month against what they say is a flood of
unfairly traded products from nine countries.
Ferriola said, however, that it was "too little, too late".
He urged China to reduce its excess steel capacity,
estimated at 200 million tons or more, and to halt subsidies to
producers that are not cost-effective.
Recounting his visit to Washington, he said: "We stress each
time we go that we are not asking for protection, we aren't
asking for subsidies, we aren't asking for the government to
invest in our companies.
"We're asking (for) nothing more than a level playing field
on which our teams can compete."
Nucor, which makes steel from scrap metal, says it is the
largest recycler in North America, as well as the biggest
producer of cold finished bar products used in a wide range of
A weak construction market has dampened demand for bars and
other products over the last year, although Nucor said the
automotive and energy markets were relatively strong.
Nucor's shares closed up 1 percent on the New York Stock
Exchange on Thursday after the company, which has a market value
of more than $14 billion, said it expected a modest improvement
in earnings for the third quarter.