US Economy

American steel companies 'fully prepared' to supply pipelines, US Steel CEO says

U.S. Steel CEO: We're fully capable of supplying steel for pipelines
U.S. Steel CEO: We're fully capable of supplying steel for pipelines

United States Steel and other American manufacturers are "absolutely" prepared to produce steel for the pipelines President Donald Trump wants built, the company's CEO told CNBC on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, Trump reiterated his insistence that pipeline makers use U.S. materials when building projects in the United States.

In a meeting with small-business leaders, Trump clarified that he not only wants pipeline companies to purchase pipes fabricated in the country, but also expects the pipe suppliers to use raw U.S. steel.

"The American manufacturing base on steel is fully prepared to supply what is needed for the pipelines and for the general infrastructure projects that are certainly going to come," U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi said in an interview with "Power Lunch" on Wednesday.

While U.S. Steel doesn't produce the spiral weld pipes being used in the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects, it does make components that go into the production of very large diameter pipelines.

Trump's mandate to use American-made steel comes at a time when some manufacturers are already struggling with the rising cost of raw steel, thanks to efforts aimed at preventing foreign countries from dumping cheap supplies in the North American market.

Those low-cost supplies have created artificial prices, are not sustainable and are a circumvention of the law, Longhi said.

In fact, thousands of U.S. manufacturing plants have closed up and many workers have lost their jobs over the last decade due largely to unfair trade practices, he contended.

Meanwhile, a fair environment would be beneficial to the overall U.S. economy, Longhi said.

"If you can increase the manufacturing contribution to GDP, you can create better jobs. The economy grows then at a higher rate. You're going to be creating better-paid jobs and you need to look at this as the overall virtual cycle that comes of a fair, balanced and supporting environment for the participation of manufacturing," he said.

Ramping up hiring

U.S. Steel CEO on job creation
U.S. Steel CEO on job creation

In December, Longhi told CNBC he expected the industry could add close to 10,000 jobs thanks to Trump's pro-growth policies.

"The industry is prepared to bring that kind of quantity of jobs to the market," he reiterated Wednesday.

"For every single job that the steel industry creates, you associate another seven solidly paying jobs in that value chain — and it all happens inside of our country."

In fact, U.S. Steel has already "begun to address" job creation, with plans to reopen a plant in Illinois this month and to bring back a mining operation in Minnesota in March, Longhi said.

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher and Jackson Burke contributed to this report.