On Monday, UK-based GFG Industrials reopened a steel plant in South Carolina. British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta will thus be able to circumvent the new 25 percent tariffs being imposed by the Trump administration on imported steel. The Georgetown Steel Mill was shuttered in 2015, but acquired by Gupta’s London-based Liberty Steel in 2017. President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Canada, China, the European Union, Mexico, and others this year, arguing that they are necessary to ensure national security and in the interest of fair trade.
The reopened mill will employ about 125 persons when it launches, while a press release predicts that it will employ 300 in the medium term. GFG Alliance plans to put more than $5 billion in American over the next few years.
At the opening ceremony, Gupta said, “This is a historic moment in the story of Liberty Steel and GFG.” According to a press release, the billionaire businessman said, “It marks our first step into the American market and is as much a milestone for us in the USA as the restart of Liberty Steel Newport after a similar shutdown period was in the UK. That triggered a cascade of major acquisitions, investments and turnaround successes for GFG in the UK. I very much hope and expect that a similar journey has started today for our family in the USA.”
“This first investment is our vote of confidence in the future of metals and heavy industrial sector in the USA,” Gupta said. “GFG’s economic model globally has long-term sustainability at its core, based on the development of local resources, including educational and local community development, and the production of quality products for the domestic market.”
The GFG-owned facility in South Carolina will produce steel rods in the U.S. and thus avoid tariffs. Currently, mills in the United Kingdom annually export in excess of $470 million in steel to America, which is about 7 percent of the total output of the United Kingdom.
Gupta said Liberty Steel will seek to impose a low-carbon footprint by using scrap metal and renewable energy to power the electric arc furnaces and mills. According to the GFG Alliance parent company, this GREENSTEEL production model integrates energy, metal making and manufacturing to produce as much added value possible within the business. “We will aim to capture as much value as we can, creating and sustaining high-quality jobs for American workers and providing a bright future for communities such as Georgetown, which has shown us great support and enthusiasm since we arrived,” Gupta added.
The United Steelworkers Union has been consulted to select workers for the plant, many of whom will be those who had been displaced earlier. The president of the United Steelworkers Local 7898, James Sanderson said, “We’re very confident that being part of the Liberty family will make Georgetown sustainable and successful. Our USW Local 7898 members are proud to return to what they sincerely enjoy doing; making great quality steel. Let’s start tapping heats and rolling quality steel.”