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Thursday was aluminum’s day in the sun.

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The Department of Commerce’s Section 232 hearing regarding imports of the metal gave domestic aluminum entities across the supply chain a chance to make their concerns heard. The hearing came less than a month after the 232 steel hearing, which was held May 24.

The aluminum hearing kicked off at 9 a.m. Eastern Time, and featured a roster of 32 speakers, including foreign dignitaries.

The full video of the hearing is available on the Department of Commerce’s YouTube page.

The Trump administration launched the Section 232 investigation in April (the last Section 232 investigation took place in 2001, which looked into iron ore and semi-finished steel). Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act gives the president authority to direct the secretary of commerce to investigate whether certain imports have national-security implications. The secretary then provides the president with policy recommendations at the conclusion of the investigation. Regarding the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum 232 investigations, many expect the adoption of tariffs to disincentivize Chinese imports.

Unsurprisingly, Chinese overcapacity and the resulting unfair business environment that a glut of global aluminum creates was a consistent throughline Thursday morning.

Kentucky State Sen. Jim Gooch Jr. was the first to step behind the lectern to speak. U.S. smelters have dwindled since the turn of the century, but Century Aluminum operates two smelters in the Bluegrass State (one in Hawesville, the other in Sebree).

“Once these facilities are shut down, they’re usually gone for good,” he said. “The loss to local employment, tax revenue, technology, skills and expertise are permanent. Unfortunately, we’re already at the tipping point of what’s left of this great industry.”

Also unsurprisingly, Li Xie, who directs the export division of China’s Ministry of Commerce, argued trade regulations are not the answer.

“We believe that unilateral trade restrictions are not conducive to solving the problem of the U.S. and the global aluminum industry,” Xie said.

He also told the panel that Chinese imports do not negatively impact the U.S.’s national security.

“Aluminum products imported from China are general products with civilian uses, such as drillers, packing, roofing, road signs and consumer durables,” he said. “None of these products implicate national security.”

Xie added China has taken measures to eliminate excess capacity. When asked by the panel about specific efforts the Chinese government has taken to cut back on excess capacity, Xie said a written report would be submitted on the subject.

Xie was followed by Talal M. Al Kaissi, of the UAE embassy’s Trade & Commercial Office, and Lurii Stegnii, Russian deputy trade representative.

Heidi Brock, president and CEO of The Aluminum Association, hoped any policies implemented by the Trump administration exempted fellow NAFTA member Canada and European Union nations which have been determined to be market economies — or, as she said during a conference call Wednesday, “play by the rules.”

Similarly, Gerd Gotz, director general of European Aluminum, hoped European producers would not get caught in the crossfire of any trade policy remedies aimed at China.

“We of the European industry believe that addressing the root causes of these problems requires continued joint efforts of the U.S., Canada and Europe,” he said. In the context of the 232 investigation, Gotz asserted European imports are not a threat to national security, and European aluminum producers function under market-economy conditions and without government subsidies.

Robert Scott, director of the Economic Policy Institute, like other industry speakers after him, painted a bleak picture for the domestic industry, which he said is “hanging on only by a thread.”

Between 2000-2017, Chinese primary aluminum production capacity has increased by nearly 1,500%, Scott said.

“Collapsing prices have decimated U.S. primary aluminum production, capacity and employment,” he said, adding that the LME price of aluminum fell 39% between 2007 and 2016.

While most of the speakers identified Chinese overproduction as the primary factor in the U.S. industry’s struggles, some explained that Chinese imports are important — necessary, even — for their companies.

For example, Steve Casey, senior director of procurement for Bemis Company Inc., said there is only one domestic producer of converter foil, and its entire capacity is not enough to meet Bemis’ annual needs.

“Increased prices or quotas for aluminum foil will open the door for imports of finished packaging, resulting in a loss of market share, profitability and ultimately employment,” Casey said.

He continued: “The present Section 232 investigation should not be used to restrict imports of aluminum foil for commercial uses, as the result would be grave economic consequences for the domestic manufacturing facilities of Bemis, other packaging producers and our customers.”

Similarly, Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute, said 98% of is aluminum can sheet is sourced domestically, but that imported primary aluminum is essential.

“Tariffs or other measures limiting the importation of primary aluminum, or can sheet, will hurt our economic activities and the jobs our industry supports,” McGreevy said. “Imports of primary aluminum for can sheet manufacturing do not threaten national security.”

Overall, however, the message from the domestic aluminum industry was clear: “something needs to be done about Chinese excess capacity.”

Michael Bless, president and CEO of Century Aluminum, after citing statistics regarding closures of U.S. smelters and employment losses, said what should have been a good era for the domestic industry was not that because of Chinese overcapacity.

“This should have been a healthy period for America’s smelters,” Bless said. “Instead, prices have collapsed due to ever-expanding overproduction led by state-owned and state-invested enterprises inside and outside China.”

While steel has perhaps gotten more of the Section 232 limelight, aluminum is a vital metal with an array of uses — commercial, military and otherwise.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is expected to announce the findings of the investigations in the near term. Some within the U.S. industry hope policy changes aren’t unnecessarily broad in scope — particularly in terms of which products are relevant to national security — Chinese overcapacity is perceived by most in the industry as a major threat, not just to U.S. producers but to market economies worldwide.

Now, it’s up to the Trump administration to decide what to do about that perceived threat, whether through tariffs, quotas, or a hybrid solution.

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2017 has seen no shortage of uncertainty when it comes to manufacturing policy.

For example, with the Section 232 investigation is in full swing, other issues remain on deck. From the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals rule getting repealed, to potential changes in visa requirements, the landscape is littered with unpredictable twists and turns.

That’s why getting smart on the following is crucial for your manufacturing organization — not just today, but well into the future:

  • Optimizing supplier management to accommodate new suppliers and streamline complex qualification processes such as PPAP, product testing, and more
  • Quickly drawing up a model of a company’s parts and bill of materials to identify areas in need of support and glean insight into the negotiation process
  • Managing the lifecycle relationship of parts, products, and suppliers
  • Leveraging best-in-class minerals traceability processes and programs to further enhance CSR initiatives
  • Reducing risk and improve agility in the MRO supply chain while more reining in small dollar spend

MetalMiner‘s Lisa Reisman, Ecovadis‘ Daniel Perry and Jaggaer‘s Roger Blumberg are set to share the tools for all of the above, to bolster your organization in these times of uncertainty.

Join us on June 27th at 12pm EDT/9am PDT for the FREE WEBINAR:

 

A Department of Commerce hearing is underway Thursday morning on the subject of the Section 232 investigation into aluminum imports. qingwa/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, the Department of Commerce’s Section 232 hearing on aluminum is in progress this morning, the LME is expected to cut its trading fees and London copper rose Thursday as a result of data indicating a global supply deficit.

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Section 232 Hearing on Aluminum Underway This Morning

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s hearing regarding its ongoing Section 232 investigation into aluminum imports started at 8 a.m. CDT Thursday.

Those interested in watching can tune into the live streams on the Department of Commerce’s Facebook or YouTube pages. After a brief break, the hearing is reconvening as of 9:59 a.m. CDT and is scheduled to continue until just after 11 a.m. CDT.

As mentioned earlier this morning, Chinese overcapacity continues to be the primary talking point.

The hearing started with testimony from: Kentucky State Rep. Jim Gooch Jr.; Li Xie, director of Export Division One, People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Commerce; Talal M. Al Kaissi, representative from the Trade & Commercial Office from the Embassy of the U.A.E.; Lurii Stegnii, deputy trade representative from the Trade Representation of the Russian Federation in the United States; and Gerd Gotz, director general of European Aluminum.

Gooch Jr.’s state is home to Century Aluminum, which operates two smelters in the Bluegrass State (one in Hawesville, the other in Sebree).

LME Planning to Cut Trading Fees

The LME is planning on cutting its trading fees in the hopes of boosting volumes, Reuters reported Thursday.

According to the report, a 35% fee hike in January 2015 is a major reason cited by those in the industry to explain declining LME volumes.

Overall volumes in the five months to the end of May this year fell more than 5% from the same five-month period in 2016, according to the article.

LME Copper Ticks Up

LME copper rose Thursday, driven by data showing a global supply deficit, according to Reuters.

According to the data, the global world refined copper market showed a deficit of 5,000 tons in March, Reuters reported. That figure stands in stark contrast with the 102,000-ton surplus reported for February.

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Meanwhile, three-month LME copper was down 0.6%, according to Reuters.

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Two words are dominating the U.S. aluminum industry’s focus as it awaits the Department of Commerce’s Section 232 investigation findings relating to aluminum (and steel) imports: Chinese overcapacity.

Cheap Chinese imports, subsidized by the Chinese government, U.S. producers argue, have adversely affected U.S. producers — leading to job losses and closures of smelters.

Of course, Chinese overcapacity is not a new target — former President Barack Obama filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization in January regarding “artificially cheap loans” propping up Chinese producers and, consequently, undercutting U.S. producers.

Ahead of tomorrow morning’s scheduled Department of Commerce hearing (9 a.m., Eastern Time) on the ongoing Section 232 investigation into aluminum imports, senior-level executives in the U.S. aluminum industry on Wednesday offered a preview of the testimony they will deliver in Washington D.C.

Speaking at the conference Wednesday were: Garney B. Scott, president of Scepter, Inc. and chairman of The Aluminum Association; Marco Palmieri, president of Novelis North America, Heidi Brock, president and CEO, of The Aluminum Association; and John Herrmannpartner at Kelley Drye & Warren.

“The past two or three years have been among the most challenging in the industry’s history,” Scott told reporters. Scott said U.S. producers have competed on the global marketplace for decades, but cannot compete with China and “more than a decade of government subsidies that have led to irrational, non-market incentives for companies to produce metal the world does not need,” adding eight U.S. smelters have closed since 2014 as a result.

The executives were united in their expressed hopes for the outcome of the Section 232 investigation.

“What we want is a negotiated government-to-government agreement that has a concrete and enforceable plan to address Chinese aluminum overcapacity,” Brock said.

Brock added that China is the sole focus of the U.S. aluminum industry’s overcapacity concerns. Furthermore, she said it is important that any trade policy readjustments do not adversely affect countries, like Canada and those in the European Union, who are “playing by the rules.”

“Canada and countries that play by the rules and have not contributed to overcapacity … we want to make sure there are not unintended consequences on the supply chain,” she said.

In a show of solidarity, The Aluminum Association, the Aluminum Association of Canada and European Aluminium released a joint statement Tuesday, urging governments of the G20 to tackle global aluminum overcapacity.

“We acknowledge the issue of Chinese aluminum excess capacity as the root cause of the challenges faced by the aluminium industries in North America and in Europe,” the release said. “Overcapacity encourages unfair trading practices and displacement of domestic production, which cause global imbalances in the aluminium industry and distort international trade flows.”

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In terms of aluminum rolling, Palmieri told reporters Chinese capacity amounts to 15 million tons per year, while its consumption is approximately 9 million tons per year, leaving an excess of 6 million tons — greater than the 5 million ton capacity of the U.S. and Canadian markets.

Prepared statements provided and intended to be delivered as testimony during tomorrow’s hearing further drove home the focus on Chinese overcapacity.

Palmieri, the president of Novelis North America, wrote the investigation is “timely and vital to the future of the domestic aluminum industry,” adding that unfairly priced Chinese aluminum has already forced the company to “exit some product lines.”

“We also have reason to believe that Chinese producers will increase production of automotive aluminum capacity within the next few years,” Palmieri writes. “If this increased capacity of aluminum were permitted to be exported to the U.S. at subsidized and unfair prices, Novelis could be forced to slash production, lay off employees, and shutter entire facilities if those facilities are not able to deliver reasonable rates of return.”

Commerce Department Hearing Gives Aluminum Industry Chance to Express Concerns

What ultimately comes out of the investigation remains to be seen (including which policy recommendations Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross provides at the investigation’s conclusion will be accepted as given to President Donald Trump, which is in accordance with his authority under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act).

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Under Section 232, the Secretary of Commerce must conclude the investigation and deliver findings within 270 days of the investigation’s commencement. The investigations into the national-security threats posed by aluminum and steel imports were announced in April.

Whatever happens, U.S. aluminum industry figures across the supply chain will have the chance to make their concerns heard.

Thursday morning’s hearing can be live-streamed on YouTube and Facebook.

Physical delivery premiums are a pretty accurate measure of primary aluminum metal supply. They reflect the balance between suppliers’ aspirations for the highest price and buyers’ determination for the opposite.

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

The setting of physical delivery premiums is, therefore, a function of supply and demand — or, more accurately, the availability of physical metal in the marketplace.

So when Metal Bulletin announced that third-quarter main Japanese port (MJP) premiums have fallen 7.4% quarter on quarter and settled for the July-September period at $118-119/ton, from $128/ton in the second quarter, it supported anecdotal evidence that, despite supply disruption from Australia and New Zealand, the Asia-Pacific market remains well supplied.

Source: Reuters

Credit for this — if “credit” is the correct term — goes in part to China’s failure to sufficiently implement supply-side reform of its aluminum sector.

The aluminum price rose strongly in the first quarter with the expectation that Beijing’s announcements regarding curtailment of excess aluminum capacity would be vigorously implemented this year.

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This morning in metals news, the biggest aluminum smelter in China is cutting back on outdated capacity, New York State’s governor and legislative leaders announced a “Buy American” deal for state purchases of iron and steel, and the European Union’s trade commissioner says the European bloc “will have to respond” if President Donald Trump imposes trade tariffs on steel imports from China, the EU and other nations.

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China Targets Aluminum Capacity

China Hongqiao Group Ltd. will be cutting back on outdated aluminum capacity, Bloomberg reported.

The cutback comes at the same time as the Chinese government focuses on illegal production, according to the report.

Chinese overcapacity is a main talking point for metals producers around the world, especially in the U.S. A Department of Commerce hearing on the government’s Section 232 investigation of aluminum imports is scheduled for 9 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, June 22.

Analysts expect further Chinese aluminum production cutbacks throughout the year.

N.Y. Pledges to ‘Buy American’

As the U.S. aluminum and steel industries await the Department of Commerce’s Section 232 investigation findings, New York politicians agreed on a proposal for buying American iron and steel.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state leaders announced a “Buy American” agreement, which calls for the use of American iron and steel for some state road and bridge projects, Newsday reported.

According to the report, the proposal gives preference to American producers for iron and steel contracts worth more than $1 million.

Although the proposal is a scaled-down version of the initial bill — the result of objections from neighboring Canada — the bill fits well in a climate dominated by talk about the potential outcomes and ramifications of the Section 232 investigation.

European Union Strikes Back?

As the U.S. Department of Commerce gets set to announce the findings and recommendations of its Section 232 investigations, trading partners abroad are keeping tabs on the process.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said the EU “will need to respond” if President Donald Trump places tariffs on steel from the EU (and other nations), POLITICO reported.

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She mentioned Chinese overcapacity and market distortions as sources of the U.S.’s concerns about steel imports. Even if tariffs applied to Chinese steel don’t directly affect EU nations, Malmström said they will still be hit “very hard.”

In an increasingly interconnected world, rarely does a trade policy targeting one country — whether formally or in spirit — only affect that country. As the U.S. is expected to take aim at China with any trade policy readjustments that come as a result of the Section 232 investigation, other nations could very well be affected.

The findings of the 232 investigation are expected to be announced in the near future. Thursday morning’s Department of Commerce hearing on aluminum should shed additional light on the government’s thinking.

A Department of Commerce hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning on the subject of the Section 232 investigation into aluminum imports. qingwa/Adobe Stock

These days, three numbers in succession are all the talk in the worlds of steel and aluminum: 2-3-2.

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The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Section 232 investigations into steel and aluminum imports and whether they pose a national-security risk have been in the news since the probe was announced in April. Industry organizations have weighed in on the investigation, some in reference to the tangential debate of renegotiating the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

During a scheduled press briefing Wednesday afternoon, several senior-level executives from the aluminum industry will preview testimony that will be given at Thursday’s Department of Commerce hearing. Thursday’s hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m Eastern Time and will be live-streamed on both YouTube and Facebook.

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Ahead of Wednesday’s preview, members of the Congressional Aluminum Caucus wrote in support of the domestic aluminum industry and the Section 232 investigation, stating “we support the Administration’s efforts to review the strategic importance of aluminum and consider actions that will address unfair trade.”

U.S. Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Bill Owens (D-NY-Retired) formed the Congressional Aluminum Caucus in August 2013. The Caucus consists of 35 Republicans and 13 Democrats.

The Caucus’ letter, signed by 13 representatives and addressed to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, outlined some of the main points of contention for the aluminum industry.

Unsurprisingly, Chinese overcapacity sits at the forefront of the policy debate for the American aluminum industry.

“Chinese overcapacity and trade of Chinese products through third countries is the fundamental issue that needs to be addressed by the Administration,” the letter states, adding that “Chinese oversupply affects the full value chain.”

While the representatives took China to task, they also made sure to highlight other trading partners, like fellow NAFTA member Canada, and their role in a hypothetical alteration of U.S.  trade policy.

“… U.S. aluminum trade with Canada is strategically vital and supports many American jobs,” the letter continued. “A trade remedy that impairs aluminum trade with Canada would not be in our national security or economic interest.”

According to a release from The Aluminum Association, Wednesday’s press briefing will focus on similar subjects, namely Chinese overcapacity, national security, and exemptions for Canadian imports and other producers who “trade fairly and who have not contributed to rising global overcapacity.”

Commerce Department Rulings Tackle Circumvention Efforts

In recent developments, the aluminum industry celebrated what some in the industry dubbed a “victory” last week when the Department of Commerce ruled in favor of the petitioning Aluminum Extrusion Fair Trade Committee.

The June 13 ruling determined Chinese imports of 6xxx series aluminum alloys disguised as pallets would be included in the scope of antidumping and countervailing duty orders on aluminum extrusions from China.

The ruling came approximately six months after another Commerce Department decision cracking down on Chinese circumvention of extrusion orders. The December ruling included 1xxx series aluminum alloys under the umbrella of the extrusion orders.

Like their colleagues in the steel industry for their respective Section 232 investigation, those in the domestic aluminum industry will watching Thursday’s Department of Commerce hearing with great interest.

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This morning in metals news: copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) is hanging steady, zinc pulled back after hitting a two-week high and General Electric (GE) announced plans to build the world’s largest laser-based powder bed metal 3-D printer.

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No Movement for Copper

A stronger U.S. dollar put a cap on gains for LME copper, as the metal’s price didn’t show much movement Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The U.S. dollar hit a three-week high against the yen after a Federal Reserve official said inflation should rise alongside wages — “reinforcing expectations for the Fed to keep raising interest rates,” according to Reuters.

Zinc Falls After Two-Week Peak

Zinc prices have been steadily climbing of late, with the metal hitting a two-week high yesterday. That has pulled back a bit, partly as a result of questions about Chinese demand, Reuters reported.

“You’ve got some news with a bullish tone, so that’s supporting the market, but I don’t know how sustainable this will all be,” Gianclaudio Torlizzi, partner at the T-Commodity consultancy, told Reuters.

LME zinc fell by 0.4%, according to the report.

GE Makes 3-D Printer Announcement

Say hello to ATLAS.

That’s the name of the new metal 3-D printer GE announced it is building, a printer that will be the world’s largest laser-based power bed metal 3-D printer.

GE made the announcement at the Paris Air Show, according to 3D Printing Industry.

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Per 3D Printing Industry, the printer has a build volume of 1 meter cubed.

The landmark North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect 23 years ago — unsurprisingly, many in the metals industry are eyeing reforms to modernize the long-standing agreement signed by the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

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In late April, President Donald Trump signed an executive order focusing on trade-agreement violations and abuses, directing the Department of Commerce and the United States trade representative (USTR) to study the U.S.’s free-trade agreements. One month ago, the office of the USTR notified Congress of the administration’s intention to renegotiate NAFTA.

In recent months, Trump has indicated he is willing to terminate the agreement if renegotiation efforts don’t go anywhere. In April, the president said he was “psyched” to terminate the deal, but ultimately had a change of heart after speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, per media reports.

That came three months after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), negotiated by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

When will renegotiation actually happen? The timeline isn’t clear. On Monday, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told reporters renegotiation might not happen until next year.

As uncertainty clouds NAFTA’s future, domestic metals organizations have weighed in on the ways in which they believe the 23-year-old agreement can be improved.

Metal Industry Hopes to Keep Positives, Target Problem Areas

Players in the metals industry have spoken out about how they want to see 23-year-old trilateral trade agreement modified for this new age.

In a filing June 12, The Aluminum Association, addressing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, urged that NAFTA should be renegotiated in a way that modernizes it without compromising the benefits of the original agreement.

In the letter to Lighthizer, The Aluminum Association underscored three ways to strengthen the agreement:

  • Improving and strengthening customs procedures and cooperation to facilitate the movement of aluminum and aluminum products among the United States, Canada, and Mexico
  • Working with the Canadian and Mexican governments to ensure that “NAFTA preferences are available only to aluminum articles that truly originate in the territory of a NAFTA party” and that “unscrupulous producers and exporters operating outside the NAFTA region are not improperly claiming preferential treatment under NAFTA by either making fraudulent country of origin claims or incorrectly classifying the article at issue”
  • Negotiating common disciplines on the operations of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), which “often benefit from favorable government policies and subsidies that create significant market distortions”

Regarding the third point, the release specifically zeroed in on China, noting “massive overcapacity” encourages unfair trading practices.

In addition to the aluminum industry, steel groups are weighing in on a potential NAFTA face-lift.

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), like The Aluminum Association, stressed in a letter to Edward Gresser, chair of the Trade Policy Staff Committee, that NAFTA has yielded “significant benefits” but could be modernized after nearly a quarter of a century since its passage.

NAFTA has been critical to the steel industry, as 90% of all U.S. steel mill product exports went to Canada or Mexico in 2016, according to the June 12 AISI letter.

U.S. steel exports to Canada and Mexico grew rapidly following the passage of NAFTA. Source: American Iron and Steel Institute

Like The Aluminum Association, the AISI cited rules-of-origin issues, global overcapacity and conduct of SOEs as issues needing assessment in a revamped agreement.

In addition, currency manipulation was a point of emphasis.

“Currency manipulation makes exports more expensive, imports cheaper, and can subsidize cheaper prices for exports to third-markets,” the AISI letter states. “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provisions against currency manipulation, but the lack of an enforcement mechanism has limited their effectiveness.”

The AISI also suggested possible improvements to “streamline” customs procedures and “to ensure that manufacturers can ship and receive steel in an efficient manner.” Part of that streamlining, AISI argues, includes updating border infrastructure.

So, in many ways, U.S. steel and aluminum seem to be on the same page with respect to NAFTA — that is, that there’s room for improvement.

NAFTA Renegotiation a Hot Topic

The USTR sent out a notice May 27 seeking public comments on the topic of NAFTA renegotiation. The period for public comments closed June 12, but not before 1,396 comments were submitted.

Clearly, NAFTA is a very important subject to many people and industry organizations. While the minutiae of free-trade agreements can sometimes make the subject seem opaque, the outcomes are decidedly human, as jobs and livelihoods are often at stake.

Leo Gerard, international president of United Steelworkers, submitted a public comment in support of renegotiating NAFTA, provided it is “along the lines identified in the comprehensive approach identified in the negotiating framework document submitted on behalf of the USW and other unions by the AFL-CIO.”

“We have felt the negative impact of the NAFTA first hand since it entered into force more than two decades ago,” Gerard wrote. “Tens of thousands of plants have shut down, millions of workers have lost their jobs and many other workers have seen their compensation stagnate or decline as a result of NAFTA.”

Looking Ahead

What’s next for the process? A public hearing will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 27, in the Main Hearing Room of the United States International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington D.C.

As demonstrated by the volume of public comments, there is a wide range of suggestions being offered with respect to NAFTA renegotiations.

One thing, however, is clear: Many of the interested parties want change of some kind.

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It is not unusual for the wrong thing to be done for the right reasons.

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Whether it is the rule of unexpected consequences or blind adherence to doctrine, there are countless historical examples of individuals, companies and governments that made decisions, claiming the moral high ground, which have resulted in damage or impoverishment to those the decision was intended to assist.

The mining sector and even some unions have reacted angrily to South Africa Minister of Mining Mosebenzi Zwane’s announcement last week at a presentation in Pretoria of a new mining charter intended to further extend South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) rules.

The charter sets out a number of significant changes to the rules governing ownership of South Africa’s vast mining industry.

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