Articles in Category: Imports

Pavel Ignatov/Adobe Stock

So far this year, the U.S. has imported 19.6% more steel than it did through the same time frame last year, according to data released by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) on Wednesday.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

According to preliminary Census Bureau data cited by AISI, through the first nine months of 2017, total and finished steel imports amounted to 29,663,000 and 22,890,000 net tons (NT), respectively. Compared with the first nine months of 2016, total and finished steel imports are up 19.6% and 15.7%, respectively.

Finished steel import market share was an estimated 27% in September, a percentage point below the 28% year-to-date market share. Estimated finished steel import market share peaked in June — around the same time as the Trump administration’s first self-imposed Section 232 steel probe deadline, which came and went without a decision (and remains outstanding) — when it eclipsed the 30% mark.

Source: AISI

By item, a number of steel product imports jumped significantly in September compared with the previous month. Those spikes include: reinforcing bars (up 85%), line pipe (up 35%), tin plate (up 31%), oil country goods (up 23%) and plates in coils (up 11%).

In the year to date, imports of oil country goods (up 255%), line pipe (up 60%), standard pipe (up 45%), mechanical tubing (up 32%), cold rolled (up 28%), sheets and strip all other metallic coatings (up 26%), sheets and strip hot dipped galvanized (up 22%) and hot rolled bars (up 19%) all posted notable increases. 

South Korea once again emerged as the top steel exporter to the U.S. last month. In descending order by volume, the top exporters to the U.S. were: South Korea (321,000 NT, down 11% from August), Japan (169,000 NT, up 32%), Germany (151,000 NT, up 53%), Taiwan (120,000 NT, down 2%) and Turkey (112,000 NT, up 5%).

South Korea also leads the way through the first nine months of the year, sending 2,949,000 NT to the U.S. (down 2% versus the same period in 2016), followed by Turkey (1,944,000 NT, up 5%), Japan (1,234,000 NT, down 14%), Taiwan (1,026,000 NT, up 36%) and Germany (1,001,000 NT, up 6%).

Speaking of Section 232, the Trump administration’s probe of the national security implications of steel imports, the wait continues for a ruling. The probe, launched in April, carries a Jan. 15 deadline. At that point, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is required to present the president with a report detailing findings and recommendations. If Ross determines the imports are a threat, the president then 90 days to decide if he agrees and whether or not to use his statutory authority to adjust import levels.

Mid-summer optimism from domestic producers, who expected the Trump administration to enact some sort of trade remedy (whether in the form of tariffs, quotas or a combination of the two) has waned. With NAFTA, health-care reform, tax reform, immigration and a number of other issues dominating the administration’s focus, Section 232 chatter has seemed to die down in recent months.

U.S. steel producers are still holding out hope for Section 232 action addressing the rise of imports. Nucor CEO and Chairman John Ferriola touched on the issue of imports during the company’s third-quarter earnings call last week.

“Nucor continues to believe significant work remains to be done to achieve free and fair trade for U.S. manufacturers,” Ferriola said during the call. “More specifically, it’s time for comprehensive and broad-based remedies that address the illegal foreign trade practices that have materially weakened our nation’s economic vitality.”

The last Section 232 probe took place in 2001, when the George W. Bush administration looked into imports of iron ore and semi-finished steel. Ultimately, it was determined those imports did not pose a threat to the country’s national security.

Free Download: The October 2017 MMI Report

This time around, U.S. producers are hoping for a different determination.

Andrey Kuzmin/Adobe Stack

This afternoon in metals news, European steel demand is expected to grow 2.3% this year, Bloomberg takes a look at the Trump administration’s “Made in America” pledge and Freeport-McMoRan is working with the Indonesian government to resolve a mining permit dispute.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

European Steel Demand to Grow 2.3%: Eurofer

The European steel association Eurofer predicts 2.3% growth in 2017 for European steel demand, according to a Reuters report.

The European steel industry is worth about 170 billion euros a year, according to the report.

Made in America?

Among other things, President Donald Trump has pushed a “Made in America” agenda, aiming to boost domestic industry.

But, in practice, has there been a rise in U.S.-based production? A Bloomberg report outlines the reality of rising steel imports and pipeline contracts increasingly being won by Russia’s Evraz.

Freeport, Indonesia Look to Settle Permit Dispute

Richard Adkerson, chief executive of copper miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc., said on Wednesday that the miner wants to avoid arbitration vis-a-vis a mining dispute in Indonesia.

Free Download: The October 2017 MMI Report

Freeport is looking to renew the permit for its Grasberg copper and gold mine.

Zerophoto/Adobe Stock

For the longest time, India has been one of the largest global importers of scrap steel, behind only Turkey.

That could change in the coming years if a recent policy announcement is any indication.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Chaudhary Birender Singh, India’s minister of steel, recently said his ministry proposed to set up steel plants with scrap as the raw material in various parts of northern and western India.

What the government expects is that in the next few years, 44% of the total scrap available in the country would be generated in various locations in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. The main use for the scrap would be steel production.

The minister said the Indian government’s efforts to recycle waste products for productive purposes would save of 65% of iron ore, which is currently the main raw material for steel production.

For some time now, the Indian government has been toying with the idea of using scrap instead of iron ore for use in steel plants. One must remember that the supply of ore was disrupted due to a ban on mining for a few years.

Such scrap-based steel plants could go some way in helping meet the government’s steel production target of 300 million tons by 2030. According to the minister, the Indian government was adopting a 360% holistic approach wherein the recycling industry can help in achieving the production target by providing raw material for the steel industry.

India imports approximately 6 million tons of scrap steel every year, though the figure has come down a bit since last year. In November 2016, India imported 482,000 tons of scrap. However, combined imports during the initial 11-month period in 2016 were down considerably when matched with the corresponding period in 2015.

The government’s plan to set up the five scrap-based steel plants may happen within the next year. A Press Trust of India report quoting Aruna Sharma, India’s steel secretary, had said all the scrap will be reused to make steel, which could be about 40 million tons of steel. The first such plant would come up next month in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, followed by one in southern India.

State-run metal scrap trading firm MSTC signed a joint venture agreement with Mahindra Intertrade for setting up the first such plant. As of now the JV is between MSTC and Mahindra. Mahindra Intertrade is a part of Mahindra Partners Division of the $17.8 billion diversified Mahindra Group.

Free Download: The October 2017 MMI Report

According to the same report, Hyundai had also shown interest in setting up the southern India plant.

misunseo/Adobe Stock

Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

  • Holidays in India mean an uptick in gold buying — our Sohrab Darabshaw covered India’s holiday gold surge.
  • The fourth round of renegotiation talks focused on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) concluded earlier this week. We covered the latest round of talks, which by all accounts have the three negotiating teams at an impasse.
  • As the fallout continues from Kobe Steel’s quality data falsification scandal, our Stuart Burns wrote about what exactly might have gone wrong at Japan’s third-largest steelmaker.
  • The World Steel Association’s Short Range Outlook came out this week, predicting solid, albeit moderated growth for the global steel market.
  • Precious and base metals have been behaving similarly, our Irene Martinez Canorea wrote this week.
  • The U.S. International Trade Commission launched a new Section 337 probe related to automation systems.
  • The value of the U.S. dollar has a significant impact on the fortunes of a number of metals, our Stuart Burns explained.
  • And how about palladium? Burns also touched on the rise of the platinum group metal and its leapfrogging of platinum (for the time being).
  • It’s third-quarter earnings report time. Alcoa and Nucor were among the latest companies to announce their earnings for the latest quarter.

Free Download: The October 2017 MMI Report

stockquest/Adobe Stock

Aluminum industry officials restated a long-held stance that in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Section 232 investigation into aluminum imports, China should be the primary focus of any trade action.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

During a roundtable conference Wednesday, Oct. 4, in Washington D.C., Michelle O’Neill, Alcoa’s senior vice president for global government affairs and sustainability (and newly elected chairwoman of the Aluminum Association); Ganesh Paneer, vice president and general manager of Automotive North America for Novelis; and Garney B. Scott, president and CEO of Scepter, answered questions about the state of the aluminum industry and outstanding trade legislation in the Department of Commerce.

O’Neill said the Aluminum Association will soon release a new statistical review of the aluminum market through 2016.

Citing shipment figures, O’Neill said overall demand is high, with shipments of aluminum from the U.S. and Canada up 40% from the trough of the recession in 2009 and “within striking distance “of record shipment numbers in 2005-2006. In that same vein, Paneer noted aluminum’s growing market share in the automotive market as another indicator of the versatile metal’s strength.

Despite these figures, however, the officials reiterated concerns about leveling the global trade playing field.

Scott, O’Neill’s predecessor as chairman of the Aluminum Association, said one of the Association’s biggest efforts is ensuring U.S. aluminum producers, recyclers and fabricators get to operate in a “predictable regulatory environment” and in a “rules-based global trading system internationally.”

In that vein, Scott referred to the levels of aluminum coming into the U.S.

“We continue to have a serious issue with the aluminum supply coming into the U.S.,” he said. “Last year saw record levels of imported aluminum into North America and more specifically the United States. The 13.1 billion pounds of imports accounted for more than half of U.S. supply.”

Scott further zeroed in on the problem, noting that while imports in general aren’t always a negative, the volume of imports from China continues to be a problem for the U.S. aluminum industry.

“While this industry has many responsible trading partners and does not view all imports as a problem, we do take issue when we see imports surg2ing from a country like China that operates outside the bounds of our global system of rules-based trade,” Scott said.

Imports from China have increased 200% since 2012, Scott said, and in the year to date are up 30%.

“These imports are a direct result of metal overcapacity,” he said.

He added that a negotiated agreement between the U.S. and Chinese governments is needed.

Recently, the Commerce Department opted to defer the issuance of a preliminary antidumping duty determination in its investigation of aluminum foil from China. Underpinning the deferral was a desire to incorporate information regarding the ongoing study of China’s non-market economy status. According to a Commerce Department release, rulings on China’s status and on aluminum foil will come no later than Nov. 30.

As for Section 232 — the administration’s investigation into the national security implications of aluminum (and steel) imports — there hasn’t been much chatter since the early summer, when an announcement appeared to be coming, but the administration’s self-imposed June deadline came and went.

“We’re in wait-and-see mode,” Scott said regarding the Section 232 investigation.

Free Sample Report: Our Annual Metal Buying Outlook

According to the law, once a Section 232 investigation is launched, the secretary of commerce has 270 days to present findings and recommendations to the president, which makes for January deadlines for both the pending aluminum and steel investigations.

As for the ongoing talks geared toward renegotiating the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Scott emphasized the industry’s trade ties with Mexico and Canada, adding that the industry isn’t looking for a “significant amount of changes” with respect to NAFTA.

Trade negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico recently met in Ottawa in late September for a third round of negotiations focusing on NAFTA.

The October GOES M3 moved up by one point to 194. Meanwhile, as MetalMiner reported last month, imports have increased throughout 2017, largely due to higher Japanese import levels.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

This trend continued in September with a noted overall import increase of nearly 11.5% from August import levels while Japanese import levels increased by nearly 18%, according to the latest International Trade Administration data.

Last month, this publication noted that Japanese imports accounted for 55% of total monthly GOES imports. However, this number jumped in September to nearly 70% of total imports. Japanese mills primarily produce the higher grades of grain oriented electrical steel, including H1-B, as well as laser quality materials.

According to a recent TEX Report, Japanese mills will likely begin negotiations within the next week or two for 1H 2018 volumes. Many producers of these H1-B and laser quality materials have obtained price increases but at the same time, the price spread between conventional grades and high-grades has increased.

Whenever the market creates a spread wider than the historical average, buying (and selling) organizations can take advantage of arbitrage opportunities. Though we tend to see these types of trends more typically in other steel markets, such as hot-rolled coil or cold-rolled coil, market anomalies for GOES create buying opportunities.

Therefore, we could expect the Japanese mills to pay very careful attention to price levels so as not to exacerbate the current price spread between the two types of materials and to prevent buying organizations from considering alternatives.

From a U.S. import perspective, we can see that average prices from Japan have increased to the U.S.

Source: International Trade Administration

When ATI left the GOES market here in the U.S., the industry needed to reconfigure its supply chains for standard or conventional materials. Power equipment manufacturers moved production elsewhere and/or secured new sources of supply offshore.

Clearly, the demand for high-grade materials continues to rise.

Free Sample Report: Our Annual Metal Buying Outlook

Exact GOES Coil Price This Month

For full access to this MetalMiner membership content:
Log In |

gui yong nian/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, U.S. steel imports dipped in September, car sales in the U.K. fell last month and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) launched a new Section 337 investigation.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Steel Imports Drop, Still 19.3% Up on the Year

Using the Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported yesterday that U.S. steel imports dropped 15.7% in September from the previous month.

For the first nine months of the year, however, imports are up 19.3% to 29,587,000 net tons.

According to the data, through the first nine months of 2017 the largest offshore suppliers were South Korea (2,963,000 NT, down 1% from the same period in 2016), Turkey (1,919,000 NT, up 4%) and Japan (1,224,000 NT, down 15%).

The estimated steel import market share for the year to date is 27%, according to the data.

U.K. Car Sales Slow Down in September

New car sales in the U.K. dropped 9.3% in the month of September, marking the sixth consecutive month of drops, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

There were 426,170 new units registered in September in the U.K. The September decline marked the first time September sales in the U.K. have dropped in six years.

USITC Launches Investigation into Thermoplastic-Encapsulated Electric Motors

The USITC announced a new investigation Thursday into thermoplastic-encapsulated electric motors, components, and products and vehicles using those motors.

According to the USITC release, “the products at issue in the investigation are automotive coolant pumps, water pumps, power steering motors, actuators, drive motors, transaxle assemblies, and other thermoplastic-encapsulated electric motors, and automobiles that contain such components.”

The investigation stems from a Sept. 5 complaint filed by Intellectual Ventures II LLC of Bellevue, Washington.

Free Sample Report: Our Annual Metal Buying Outlook

“The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain thermoplastic-encapsulated electric motors, components thereof, and products and vehicles containing same that infringe patents asserted by the complainant,” the release continues. “The complainant requests that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce. qingwa/Adobe Stock

The U.S. Department of Commerce has recently issued preliminary determinations in countervailing duty (CVD) and antidumping investigations of imports from Japan, China, Romania, Kazakhstan and others.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Last week, the department added Canada to the list, dropping a major countervailing duty on imports of large civil aircraft. The move, coincidentally, came just before the third round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation talks, which wrapped up Sept. 27 in Ottawa.

The Department of Commerce issued a preliminary determination early last week in its CVD investigation of imports of 100- to 150-seat large civil aircraft from Canada, resulting in a whopping 219.63% tariff on the CSeries of planes exported to the U.S. by Bombardier, Inc.

“The U.S. values its relationships with Canada, but even our closest allies must play by the rules,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a prepared statement. “The subsidization of goods by foreign governments is something that the Trump Administration takes very seriously, and we will continue to evaluate and verify the accuracy of this preliminary determination.”

According to the Department of Commerce’s preliminary ruling, exporters of the aircraft received countervailable subsidies of 219.63%.

The Commerce Department will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to collect cash deposits from importers of 100- to 150-seat large civil aircraft based on these preliminary rates.

The Boeing Company was the petitioner in the case. Petitions were filed April 27.

The ruling is a big win for Boeing — if it holds, that is — which as Bloomberg reported late last week, has developed an unlikely positive relationship with President Donald Trump.

However, as NAFTA negotiations unfold, such a move is sure to increase tensions. According to a recent Ipsos poll, just 33% of Canadians said renegotiating NAFTA was a good thing, compared with 48% of Americans and 46% of Mexicans — indicating, to an extent, that Canada is happy with the current order of business (of course, it’s just one poll).

Naturally, imposition of a nearly 220% tariff on any product, let alone large aircraft, is going to be a big deal. Bombardier’s stock dropped $0.07 from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, from $1.82 to $.175 (a 3.7% drop). Boeing, meanwhile, closed at $253.70 on the New York Stock Exchange Sept. 26, compared to a closing price of $256 on Monday.

According to a Reuters report, threats of retaliation from Quebec were already being heard late last week.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard took the Commerce Department’s preliminary ruling very seriously.

“Boeing may have won a battle but, let me tell you, the war is far from over. And we will win,” Couillard said, according to the Reuters report.

The ruling is only preliminary, but it certainly ratchets up tensions in what has already been a NAFTA dialogue fraught with tension, in large part a result of the accelerated negotiating schedule.

In addition, the ruling is not the first one this year to target Canadian imports. On June 26, the department issued a preliminary ruling calling for duties of 30.88% to 17.41% on imports of softwood lumber from Canada.

Free Download: The September 2017 MMI Report

The Department of Commerce has launched 68 antidumping or CVD investigations this year between Jan. 20 and Sept. 20, representing a 45% increase in cases from the same time frame last year, according to the department’s release.

A final CVD determination in the investigation is scheduled for Dec. 12.

gui yong nian/Adobe Stock

It’s been five months and a day since President Donald Trump signed a memorandum calling for Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to prioritize the Section 232 investigation that would assess whether steel imports posed a national security risk.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Many expected an announcement of the investigation’s findings in June or July, but it never came.

As the delay drags on, the U.S. steel industry has expressed its desire for the Trump administration to act vis-a-vis the 232 probe.

The United Steelworkers (USW) union was the latest group to urge the administration to act.

“The time to act is now, and workers are telling politicians their first-hand stories of the devastation in the industry and the critical importance of providing relief,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard said in a prepared statement.

Read more

gui yong nian/Adobe Stock

This afternoon in metals news, steel imports are up 21.4% through the first eight months of the year, a report considers whether copper’s run will last and China has agreed to loan Guinea $20 billion in exchange for concessions on the country’s bauxite reserves.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

 

Steel Imports Up 21.4% This Year

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) released steel import data earlier this week showing that total steel imports have risen 21.4% through the first eight months of this year compared with the same time frame in 2016.

According to the report, steel import permit applications in August totaled 3,572,000 net tons (NT).

The largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries in August were for: South Korea (418,000 NT, up 24% from July preliminary), Germany (141,000 NT, down 5%), Turkey (132,000 NT, down 48%), Taiwan (115,000 NT, down 4%) and Japan (107,000 NT, down 22%).  Through the first eight months of 2017, the largest offshore suppliers were South Korea (2,683,000 NT, down 1% from the same period in 2016), Turkey (1,855,000 NT, up 9%) and Japan (1,044,000 NT, down 18%).

Can Copper Keep Up the Pace?

Copper has been on a tear, earlier this week hitting a three-year high.

But can it last? Is the metal due for a market correction?

A report on nasdaq.com speculated about the future of the metal.

“While copper has lately been enjoying a stellar run, analysts are skeptical about the sustainability of the recent price rally,” the report states. “Many believe that prices of the metal will come under pressure as the market remains adequately supplied and demand is not strong enough.”

China Makes Deal on West African Nation’s Aluminum Ore

On Wednesday, China agreed to loan Guinea $20 billion over 20 years in exchange for concessions on the country’s bauxite reserves, Reuters reported.

Guinea is Africa’s leading bauxite producer.

Free Sample Report: Our Annual Metal Buying Outlook

According to Guinean Mines Minister Abdoulaye Magassouba, the revenues generated from the mines would be used to pay for infrastructure in the country.