Government Affairs Conference Highlights: Wire Industry Reconnects in DC!

Thank you to everyone who came to Washington DC for last month’s Government Affairs Conference.  The meeting was somewhat smaller than usual, but the energy was high, and people were glad to be back in-person. The general session program was the most highly rated in 5 years, and we managed to avoid a government shutdown and hear from  Greta Peisch at USTR on Friday morning as well.  Between committee meetings and receptions, there were plenty of opportunities to catch up with colleagues and hear the latest news from others in the industry.  In case you missed it, here’s some of what happened.

The past year has been a wild one, and Connor Lokar from ITR Economics gave us the inside scoop on what to expect heading into 2022. Some points to note: most signs point to a deceleration of growth for 2022 and 2023; inflation pressure is real, but will not be ruinous; pricing pressures, including for steel scrap, are expected to ease in 2022.

Without a doubt Connor was the most engaging economic speaker we have had. Thank you again to Nucor for their sponsorship.

Philip Bell from the Steel Manufacturers Association discussed the state of the steel industry, and gave us a perspective on the current US/EU trade negotiations, noting how the EU has become a conduit for Chinese and Russian non-market production, and how Chinese exports to the EU have also caused the EU to divert its own production to US markets. The one major factor in the steel market about which most everyone can agree, is still Chinese overcapacity. He also discussed how “green” the US Steel Industry is compared to other major economies, and how US Steel has a distinct carbon advantage, as de-carbonization is becoming even more of a hot political topic.

Colin Schneider from MID-SHIP Logistics gave us the latest on the supply chain crunch, breaking down where the bottlenecks and back-ups are, and how much longer they might last. With demand up, backlogs at the ports both in the US and abroad, and natural disasters like wildfires in the West and Hurricane Ida in the Gulf, it may be a while before these snarls untangle.

After finding out on Thursday evening that Congress passed a bill to avert a shutdown, we were pleased to be joined for breakfast Friday morning by Greta Peisch, General Counsel from USTR. Ms. Peisch provided an update on the Biden administrations trade efforts, and the status of trade negotiations with the EU. She spoke briefly and then answered a wide range of questions from members for half an hour. One of the interesting points she made was that while USTR is negotiating with the EU, it is also having discussions with individual member countries. With a December 1st deadline for retaliatory tariffs on US goods, time is running short for these negotiations.

Everyone at the meeting expressed how great it was to be back meeting in person, and how meeting face to face made such a difference. As covid rates drop and vaccination rates increase, we are looking forward to the February meeting. You won’t want to miss it! Watch your Inbox – we’ll be sending more information soon.