Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of one of the world’s largest steel companies, ArcelorMittal, says his company is preparing to make a multi-billion-dollar investment at its giant steel mill in Mobile County.
Mittal offered the news tip at a press conference on the last day of President Donald Trump’s recent visit to India, Feb. 25.
“Mr. President, we are going to announce a multi-billion-dollar investment in Alabama state,” Mittal said at a roundtable of Indian business leaders, according to a transcript by the White House.
Details he did not offer, but the president responded like it was not news to him.
“Good. That’s a great place,” Trump said. “I know you’re investing. I know you’re looking at Alabama, right?”
“Yes,” said Mittal.
“I know. I had heard that,” said Trump. “That’s great for a very — that’s a big plant and that’s going to be this super-efficient, super-modern. That’s going to be a showcase, I hear.”
“I know that you always know more than I do about my own business,” said Mittal.
Mittal is one of the richest individuals in the world, far wealthier than Trump, but that did not prevent him from making some courteous bows before his American visitor.
“This one is a big one, right?” joked Trump in first acknowledging Mittal. “This is a big — this is a big guy. This is a big player. Go ahead. I know him very well. I’ve seen him on enough covers. I should know him, huh? Go ahead. How’s it going?
“Thank you, Mr. President. My honor. But since you have — you became the president, you saved the steel industry in the United States. And Section 232 has been the big lesson for the rest of the world on how to support domestic manufacturing. And this is what we expect the other countries to learn: that they should support domestic manufacturing, not made in China. They support domestic manufacturing to dump steel in the world. (Inaudible) over-capacitation.
“But I must thank you for what you have done for the steel industry, what you have done for the tax reform, what you have done to reduce regulations. I’ve never seen the extent of ease of doing the business what we experience in the United States anywhere else in the world. So, I must congratulate you for creating an ease of business ecosystem.”
A joint venture of ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp., in 2014, bought, for $1.55 billion, the sprawling steel mill that ThyssenKrupp built in Mobile County for $5 billion. The German investment crashed headlong into the 2008 Great Recession.
During their exchange, Mittal asked Trump to visit Alabama for a public appearance at the company’s plant, and Trump replied, “Well, you let me know. I’ll be there for the groundbreaking.”