* Steelmakers see ally in Trump adviser Dan DiMicco
* Protectionist stance could trigger backlash from car
By Maytaal Angel and Nick Carey
LONDON/CHICAGO, Nov 23 The top U.S. steelmakers'
association said it has been in contact with President-elect
Donald Trump's transition team since his election on Nov. 8, as
the industry seeks tougher trade defenses under his incoming
Trade restrictions are tantalizing for an American steel
industry struggling with foreign competition, but analysts say
new measures could trigger a backlash from U.S. carmakers and
other consumers who want unfettered access to overseas markets.
"We initially communicated with the transition team prior to
the election and are continuing that effort post-election," said
Lisa Harrison, a spokeswoman for the American Iron and Steel
Institute (AISI), whose members include ArcelorMittal USA
, Nucor Corp, U.S. Steel and AK Steel
She did not comment on the content of the talks or who was
involved, but said Trump adviser Dan DiMicco, a former Nucor
chief executive who is the leading contender for U.S. trade
representative in the Trump administration, is a strong advocate
for the industry.
"We are proud of the prominent role he played in the
campaign - and now in the transition," she said.
DiMicco has accused China, a top world steel producer, of
"rampant and destructive trade cheating" in his blog.
Officials in Trump's transition team did not immediately
respond to requests for comment. The New York businessman
campaigned on a promise to promote the U.S. steel industry and
toughen up trade terms with China and other countries.
U.S. steel traders said they were confident that the
industry's representatives were pushing Trump's transition team
hard for more trade restrictions, and expected that DiMicco was
bringing those ideas directly to Trump.
"They have Trump's ear big-time in the form of DiMicco," one
of the traders said, asking not to be named.
But he added that he expected auto manufacturers to push
back: "Eventually its going to backfire massively. Carmakers
will start screaming. But for now it's a question of who lobbies
U.S. steel company stocks have surged 25 percent
since Trump's election victory, fueled by bets for stronger
trade defenses, tax cuts and infrastructure spending.
Trump has pledged to spend $1 trillion over 10 years on
infrastructure, slash corporate and top-rate individual taxes,
redraw trade deals to win back American jobs, and slap punitive
import tariffs on Mexican and Chinese goods.
While investors have cheered his tax cut and infrastructure
plans, his protectionist stance on trade has some worried.
Protectionism stokes inflation and while this might initially
help protected sectors like steel, it risks sparking a trade war
that could ultimately damage U.S. and global growth.
"Higher steel prices are negative for actual economic
activity and the risk for steel in the longer term is that
price-sensitive demand could ultimately decrease," said
Jefferies analyst Seth Rosenfeld.
Ford said last week that Trump's plan to slap 35
percent tariffs on cars and trucks imported from Mexico would
hurt the auto industry and the U.S. economy, and has remained
committed to making small cars in Mexico despite the tariff
"Frankly these jobs that have left, they're not coming back
and many jobs haven't left, they've been automated," said a U.S.
trade lawyer who represents steel consumers.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Jonathan Oatis)