Just a couple of days ago we finished a year which was both very difficult and very rewarding. This is more evidence that if we are ready for any difficulties and we work together, we are going to overcome every obstacle.
We started January 2016 with a shortened working week, and not many analysts could predict what might happen a month later. What we all knew was the fact that it was going to be hard, but our reaction was immediate and proper.
A year ago I informed you how volatile and dynamic the situation was. I asked you to be flexible and foresighted. I am happy that we have been flexible and foresighted. In connection with that we used the Carnegie Way to create value for all at USSK and finish the year with nice performance. Thank you all for the hundreds of ideas which paved our Carnegie Way journey. Without them, our own activity and continuous improvement at every workshop, it would never have been possible to achieve what we did in 2016.
I told you last year that we would explain to the decision-makers at EU level how harmful some decisions are for the steel business, and how we have to overcome obstacles which do not burden our competitors in the east. Again and again we asked for an international level playing field. There are still thousands of tons of steel imported and traded at dumping prices. On the other hand, even last year we found that there were voices which were with us. The Slovak Government listened very carefully to what we said. There are people who understand the importance of the steel business in Europe, and very soon we will see if their voice is strong enough.
I want to mention the efforts of our labor unions here, who also loudly stressed that there can be no Europe without steel. “Do not destroy our industry,“ the labor union members from Kosice twice warned at the European Commission building.
After last year we know that the European Commission is aware of what the European steel business needs, and where the threats are. We will soon know if they are also able to implement more effective trade defense instruments. What we were told they intend to do is nice, but we are waiting for real, quick, practical measures.
There may still be clouds over our heads, but we can also see a ray of light and hope ahead of us.