Jong Kook Lee, Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, left, and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth put on some gloves before planting a tree together during POSCO's grand opening ceremony on Friday.

JEFFERSONVILLE — The world's fifth largest steel manufacturer says it will be able to ramp up its production and workforce in its Jeffersonville location now that it has been excluded from trade restrictions implemented by the Trump Administration.

South Korean company POSCO Steel has had a presence at the Port of Indiana since the opening of its $19 million facility in September 2017. The Southern Indiana site was selected for the company's second United States-based location in part because of the expansive transportation opportunities it offered, with close proximity to multiple major interstates, railroads and the Ohio River.

POSCO had big plans in store for the plant, with expansions both in size and in the amount of local residents it employed. Trade restrictions put into place in 2018 by the Trump Administration under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, however, put that growth on hold.

Raw materials needed for the plant's processing of steel wire into fasteners, nuts and bolts for production in the automotive industry were affected by import tariffs and quotas.

Enter Ninth District U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-IN, who requested that the Department of Commerce lift the restrictions in POSCO's specific case. In his request, he noted that the company's decreased ability to obtain materials made outside of the United States due to the trade restrictions was causing production at the site to slow. This, Hollingsworth argued, was putting the local economy at risk by endangering the jobs of the Hoosiers he represents.

This week, Hollingsworth's office learned that the Department of Commerce had approved the requests to exclude the Jeffersonville location from the effects of the Section 232 trade restrictions.

"I'm fighting for an economy that allows our Hoosier business to grow and to create the best possible opportunities for Hoosiers to succeed," Hollingsworth said in a statement to the News and Tribune.

According to the congressman's office, POSCO will now be able to move forward with the growth it envisioned when it first opened the facility and eventually hire more Indiana employees.

Representatives from POSCO released a statement thanking Hollingsworth for his efforts in the matter, noting that they hope to continue their role as a job creator in the region. With the restrictions lifted, the statement said the company will be able to increase production by roughly 30 percent.

"POSCO’s newly invested wire rod facility in Jeffersonville was struggling to operate at a normal capacity due to the lack of raw materials and trade restrictions related to the Section 232 measures," the release reads. "However, with Rep. Hollingsworth's continued support throughout the entire process, we successfully had the Department of Commerce grant exclusions for our raw materials from the Section 232 tariffs and quotas restrictions. We expect this to not only increase our capacity utilization by about 30 percent, but also allow us to hire more people and continue with our planned expansion investments that were on indefinite hold. As part of the Jeffersonville community, we hope to continue giving back to the community moving forward."

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