Steel has a rich place in the history of Australian modernisation and industrialisation. Our economy has grown alongside the developments in our steel industry, allowing us to build monuments, roads and buildings. It will continue to have a strong influence on the direct of Australia’s future.
Ever since 1915, Australia has been actively involved in the global steel industry. Modern Australian steel relies on a plethora of powerful companies involved in the processing, mining, manufacturing and distribution of Australian steel.
As successful as the Australian steel industry is, it still does not break the top twenty steel producing countries in the world. However, if legislation changes and there is more political support, it is possible that this may change in the near future. In fact recent political and economic developments suggest that Australian steel could be moving towards a very bright and active future.
Even during the Parliament lapse in 2016, the Senate has made quite clear that they are in full support of Australian steel.
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What areas are the Australian Government focusing on to improve the state of the Australian steel industry?
One of the areas that the Australian Government is focusing on to help the growth of Australian steel is by helping support the large-scale sale of Arrium. The funding to assist in the sales process is expected to boost revenue and a significant amount to the economy. Arrium is an Australian mining and materials company acquired by the British-owned GFG Alliance. It originated as a division within BHP in 2000 as OneSteel. From it’s small background it now has over 10,000 workers and sites across Australia.
There are also concerns lately in regards to the over supply of steel in China. The Australian government has made a considerable effort to take this into account, and there has recently been a call for more support to the Australian steel industry in it’s entirety.
Australian steel and international relations with the United States of America in the era of Donald Trump’s presidency
Australian steel giant, BlueScope, has made public statements saying that they are on track to ‘refocus and get back to business’ after the current President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, confirmed that BlueScope would be exempt from any of his new tough import tariffs.
Donald Trump’s administration has made the announcement that it will have 25 per cent tariffs on steel and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminium being distributed into the United States. One of the nations given exemption to this rule has been Australia. Despite a rocky start to the Malcolm Turnbull and Donald Trump era of international relations, it is looking like there may be greater cooperation for economic development and meeting each nation’s mutual needs.
The decision to announce exemptions was made in May 2018. Some of the other nations with exemptions included the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.
BlueScope managing director, Mark Vassella, said ‘it had been a very uncertain 15 month period for BlueScope’s trans-Pacific trade’ but that he was ‘very pleased with the President’s declaration of permanent exemption’.
The argument put forth by BlueScope and the Turnbull Government was that their product was processed and converted into higher value products once it arrives in the United States’ west coast.
BlueScope is also responsible for hiring thousands of workers. They have more than $3 billion dollars worth of assets in the United States.
“We understood the US industry’s unfair trade concerns, but we were never part of the problem. In fact we are part of the solution – because we supply Port Kembla steel to our own factories in the US, and employ more than 3000 Americans,’ said BlueScope Managing Director Mark Vasella.
“This exemption supports both Australian and US jobs and will ensure our trade relationship continues to grow in a fair and reciprocal manner. So now it’s time to refocus and get back to business.”
The future of Australian steel is looking very promising with support both from Government and international economic allies, such as China and the United States of America. As the steel industry continues to grow, Australian companies such as BlueScope steel looks set to play an ever larger part in the production and distribution of raw and processed steel.