Angling for a bigger chunk of the U.S. and Mexican steel market, Mexico's Hylsa is spending $400 million for a state-of-the-art, thin-slab casting mill. With this investment, the Monterrey-based company becomes the first North American integrated-steel producer to branch into this new German technology, which is used in making steel for cars, appliances, and ships.

The move serves notice to America's steel giants that Mexico will battle for market share not only with cheap labor but also with high technology.

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