Summary of How Imports Helped the American Steel Industry

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At one time, the United States produced all the iron ore for its steel production domestically. Then, in the early 1980s, foreign competition entered the US market and forced American producers to achieve greater productivity. In this eye-opening article, researcher Dany Bahar draws on this historical experience to explain how free trade – not trade barriers – supports the US steel industry. getAbstract recommends this succinct analysis to executives and trade experts for its cogent treatment of a relevant topic that has large-scale repercussions on the global economy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How US iron ore producers benefited from foreign competition in the early 1980s, and
  • How tariffs on steel imports would harm the sector and worsen America’s trade deficit.

About the Author

Dany Bahar is a fellow at the Brookings Institution.



High shipping costs insulated the US iron ore industry from foreign competition for almost 100 years. That landscape changed in the early 1980s, when Brazilian iron ore imports penetrated the American market due to cost reductions in transportation. Their entry caused the US iron ore business to restructure and become more productive through innovative mining techniques and improved technology, tools, processes and worker skills. Similarly, revived competition in the early 21st century would reinvigorate the American steel business. 

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