How Donald Trump Ditched U.S. Steel Workers in Favor of China; with Their Industries Besieged by Imports, Key Swing States Were Deprived of Untold Millions of Dollars as Trump Chose China

By Eichenwald, Kurt | Newsweek, October 21, 2016 | Go to article overview

How Donald Trump Ditched U.S. Steel Workers in Favor of China; with Their Industries Besieged by Imports, Key Swing States Were Deprived of Untold Millions of Dollars as Trump Chose China


Eichenwald, Kurt, Newsweek


Byline: Kurt Eichenwald

Plenty of blue-collar workers believe that, as president, Donald Trump would be ready to fight off U.S. trade adversaries and reinvigorate the country's manufacturing industries through his commitment to the Rust Belt. What they likely don't know is that Trump has been stiffing American steel workers on his own construction projects for years, choosing to deprive untold millions of dollars from four key electoral swing states and instead directing it to China--the country whose trade practices have helped decimate the once-powerful industrial center of the United States.

A Newsweek investigation has found that in at least two of Trump's last three construction projects, Trump opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers rather than United States corporations based in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. In other instances, he abandoned steel altogether, instead choosing the far-less-expensive option of buying concrete from various companies, including some linked to the Luchese and Genovese crime families. Trump has never been accused of engaging in any wrongdoing for his business dealings with those companies, but it's true that the Mafia has long controlled much of the concrete industry in New York.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has maintained that some controversial decisions for his companies amounted to nothing more than taking actions that were good for business, and were therefore reflections of his financial acumen. But, with the exception of one business that collapsed into multiple bankruptcies, Trump does not operate a public company; he has no fiduciary obligation to shareholders to obtain the highest returns he can. His decisions to turn away from American producers were not driven by legal obligations to investors, but simply resulted in higher profits for himself and his family.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, did not return an email seeking comment.

Of Trump's last three construction projects, the first to use Chinese steel was Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, which opened in 2008. That the manufacturer is from China is not immediately evident; this fact is hidden within a chain of various corporate entities, including holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. That micro-state is a popular site for obscure off-shore entities that exist only on legal documents, limiting the potential liability of real businesses while obscuring their true owners.

According to government documents, the Chinese entity chosen by Trump to provide steel for the Las Vegas property is a holding company called Ossen Innovation Co. Ltd.-formerly known as Ultra Glory International Ltd. That British Virgin Islands entity in turn owns a second holding company called Ossen Innovation Materials Group Ltd., which, through a complex legal arrangement, indirectly owns Ossen Innovation Materials Co. Ltd., and through it, Ossen (Jiujiang) Steel Wire & Cable Co. Ltd., the operating business located in Shanghai. With such layers upon layers of corporate shells and divisions, builders like Trump can purchase their steel from less-expensive Chinese suppliers without the ultimate supplier being readily apparent. That steel was then used in the construction of the Las Vegas property.

When Americans like Trump purchase their steel through Ossen, they are providing financial benefits to an array of Chinese companies and even the government. For example, Ossen corporate records show Chinese banks provide all of its short-term financing in the form of loans that almost all mature after one year, and then are replaced by new loans; most Chinese banks are arms of the state, tightly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, and provide financing to companies that are competitors to American manufacturers in other industries. …

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