The American Iron and Steel Institute at the consortium's general meeting Monday-Tuesday (May 14-15) in Washington will disclose two new UltraLight Steel Auto initiatives and announce online classes for engineers that AISI hopes will expand use of steel in future automotive applications.
Surprisingly, AISI isn't expected to increase pressure on the Bush Admin. to initiate fast track legislation that would help struggling steel producers hurt by imports. “I kind of applaud the government for not rushing into this,” says Darryl Martin, AISI senior director of automotive applications. “We'd like relief as quick as we can get it. But we need it to be comprehensive, not just a quick fix.”
AISI says steel mills have been hit hard by the slowing automotive market, overcapacity, unfairly priced imports and rising energy prices, which will add $80 million-$100 million in costs for steel mills this year. President Bush's campaign strategy last fall pledged a strong commitment to domestic energy firms. But the Bush Admin. has not investigated dumping claims, and recently it appointed to the Council of Economic Advisers economist Anne Krueger, who opposes legislative protection for the domestic steel industry.
AISI substantially cut its marketing budget earlier this year because many of its members couldn't pay membership fees due to financial difficulties. Mr. Martin believes the budget will be fully restored for 2002, and says the goal AISI set in 2000 for steel use to grow by 25% by 2005 still is an objective, “although it's slipped a little bit to '08 or so.”