Steel exports are booming.
A record number of American factories are exporting their product to China.
But with a new trade deal expected to be announced soon, the trade policy debate in Congress is on the table.
The Hill’s Matt Zapotosky reports.
The House will vote on a trade bill next week that would require American steel producers to meet higher environmental standards.
But that bill is opposed by the steel industry, which argues that any new environmental standards will harm its businesses.
“We’re seeing more than 100 million tons of steel exported every year,” said Mike Homan, vice president of the American Steel Association, adding that many of the steel imports are used in industrial projects.
“I think we’re seeing it more and more, and that’s really unfortunate.”
Steel industry groups say the trade deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is not designed to improve the environment.
The bill will include a provision that could lead to more tariffs on steel imported from countries that do not have a trade agreement with the United States, including Mexico and China.
In fact, some industry groups have warned that the bill would actually hurt the U.S. economy.
A recent report from the American Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers found that a 20 percent tariff on imported steel could result in an economic impact of $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
While the bill does not include a requirement for steel companies to meet certain environmental standards, the legislation will require companies to spend millions of dollars to implement environmental standards in their own factories.
The groups argue that this would cost the steel companies millions of jobs.
“There is a lot of talk that if you impose these requirements on the U:S.
steel industry it will hurt the American steel industry,” Homan said.
“But there is not a single shred of evidence that this is true.”
Some industries have expressed concern that the trade bill could lead the U to adopt tougher environmental standards on imports.
The Associated Press reported last month that some steelmakers say they would be willing to pay more to meet standards if the new trade agreement included environmental measures.
Homan also said the U, as a member of the World Trade Organization, is “at a crossroads” and that it is important that we get our priorities right.
He said that while the bill will have many benefits, the U’s membership in the trade agreement would have to be ratified before it could be signed into law.
“That’s why we’re asking for a simple yes vote on this,” he said.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to unveil the bill next Wednesday, a day after it is expected the House will begin debate on the trade legislation.
McCarthy is not expected to make any announcement until after the trade committee vote on the legislation on Thursday, but he is expected on the House floor to criticize the trade deals for being too close to the executive branch and for being unfair to small businesses.
He has called the trade agreements a “job killer.”
“It’s not only the wrong policy for this country,” McCarthy said in an interview with The Hill.
“It is not good for our economy.”