The plant had specialized in armor plating for warships and submarines since before the second world war. The only steel left standing after the World Trade Center fell — a wall of forked “trident” columns — was manufactured here.
But in recent years, the Coatesville plant has struggled. At least 150 jobs vacated by retirement and attrition have not been filled, and the plant now operates at just more than half-capacity, workers say. The 580 unionized steelworkers still employed at the site worry that the international conglomerate that owns it, ArcelorMittal, might someday shut it down.
Lately, however, a wave of cautious optimism has crept into Coatesville. In March, Donald Trump announced a new 25-percent tariff on all U.S. steel imports, and last week, the president ended a temporary exemption from the tariff for the European Union, Canada and Mexico — three close American allies that together account for 40 percent of imports.
That news has been greeted with consternation and outrage in La Malbaie, Quebec, where the G7 summit has convened. Theresa May called the tariffs “unjustified and deeply disappointing” in a recent phone call with Trump, Downing Street said. Canada, Europe and Mexico have announced retaliatory levies.
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