June 2018 Commerce Club Luncheon Featuring John Foster & Richard Brazzale, American Institute for Imported Steel

Steel Imports Represent Valuable Chunk of Breakbulk Cargo


Breakbulk cargo in port of Houston. Photo courtesy of Port of Houston Authority.

Foster, who has been chairman of the AIIS since 2010, served as the lead speaker of the presentation and described some of its initiatives in pursuit of “free and responsible trade in steel.” Among the efforts noted by Foster were meetings with congressional leaders such as Congressmen Green, Babin and Culberson, offering testimony to the Department of Commerce in 2017, national press conferences, and an AIIS Board letter to the president asking for termination of the Section 232 investigation.

Using data from several sources, Foster and Brazzale shared current economic conditions and the tie to imported steel factors. They stressed the importance of steel for Texas ports, noting that “although the volume of steel products take a back seat to liquid bulk, it is an important element in cargo movement for Port Houston.”

The presentation showed that in 2017, liquid bulk accounted for a 68.4% share of all cargoes through Port Houston, both imports and exports, and 66.3% share of all imports. In 2017, steel products accounted for a 4.1% share of all Port Houston cargoes, both imports and exports, and 10.4% share of all imports. In 2017, steel products also accounted for an 80.6% share of non-containerized (breakbulk) general cargo imports.

“It is extremely important Port Houston stay the number one steel port in America,” said Foster.

Foster and Brazzale also focused on the turbulent trade issues currently facing imported steel, particularly highlighting the economic uncertainties to the marketplace caused by impending tariffs. The data presented included manufacturing production and capacity utilization as well as U.S. steel import/export volumes.

The team wrapped up the session by depicting the economic impacts on the national marine transportation system that are generated by imported iron and steel products. Data shows that in 2016, port activity supported 1.3 million jobs, a total economic activity of $239.8 billion (1.3% of 2016 U.S. GDP), and $19.4 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues.

AIIS is a 68-year-old trade organization, comprised of 128 member companies. Foster described it as “the last real voice in Washington, D.C.” for imported steel concerns.

The American Institute for International Steel (AIIS) and two of its member companies, Sim-Texas, LP, of Waller, Texas, and Kurt Orban Partners, LLC, of Burlingame, California, filed suit in the United States Court of International Trade in New York City on June 27, 2018. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality President Trump’s statute imposing a 25% tariff on imported steel. The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the law relied on by President Trump to impose that tariff is unconstitutional, as well as a court order preventing further enforcement of the 25% tariff increase.

  • Date August 14, 2018
  • Tags 2018 July/August