US Steel CEO says it is 'totally realistic' to bring manufacturing jobs back

U.S. Steel CEO: We need a fair playing field

Mark Cuban made comments recently about how robotics and automation are the wave of the future and could cause unemployment in America.

Many believe most of the unemployment Cuban referred to would primarily affect traditional manufacturing jobs and industries. However, U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi said he believes it's realistic and necessary for manufacturing jobs to come back.

"It is totally realistic to bring jobs back," Longhi told CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Thursday. "If you look at the regulatory system that we have today, it takes us years sometimes to get some approvals. We have a pipeline of projects just sitting out there to be executed on. In a fair playing field, for every great idea or innovative solution that comes to place, you need a physical device to bring it to fruition so the full value can be captured. It is totally viable, it is needed and can be done."

Among those projects Longhi may be referencing could be the Dakota Access and Keystone projects that President Trump said earlier must use pipes made from U.S. steel. Longhi reiterated comments he made earlier to CNBC that U.S. Steel is fully capable of producing for upcoming pipeline projects.

"The capability is in there for us to make everything that is needed," Longhi said. "We are going to become energy dependent not too far down the road. Therefore, the capacity to explore, produce, extract and transmit is something that our industry is capable of delivering."

The CEO was also one of 24 business leaders who met with President Trump on Thursday to discuss economic policies and the job growth agenda.

In response to comments made about automation and robots taking over manufacturing jobs, Longhi said he believes labor is still necessary to fulfill the 3 percent growth Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mentioned earlier to CNBC.

"If you add a good dimension of our economic growth, 3 plus percent a year, that is going to require a significant amount of labor as we go into the new industries," Longhi said. "If we talk about robots, robots have to be made somewhere. So I think evolution is key, and I believe economic growth will create conditions for many, many new jobs to be created."

And while Longhi stopped short in suggesting whether or not he was in favor of a border-adjustment tax, he did voice a need for a "fair playing field" in international trade.

"My view is that what we need is a fair playing field. I don't consider a trade war when you are going trying to make sure that everybody plays by the same rules," Longhi said. "In many cases, what happens is that we compete against countries that are unfairly twisting what should be a market-force driven environment into their own benefit, and we don't have a chance to compete in that regard."

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