Industry News

China is importing record numbers of North Korean coal in violation of international sanctions and the shipping industry is still suffering under its worst downturn ever.

China Ignores Sanctions, Imports Record North Korean Coal

It appears that China is interpreting the “people’s well-being” as meaning North Korea should be able to export record amounts of coal in defiance of sanctions against the rogue nuclear-armed state.

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China imported 2.465 million metric tons of coal from North Korea in August, the highest on record, and 61% above what was bought in April, the month sanctions were supposed to take effect.

Shipping Downturn Claims Hanjin

The shipping industry is suffering its deepest downturn ever as trade slows. Around 90% of world trade is transported by sea.

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South Korean container line Hanjin, which filed for receivership on Aug. 31, is the latest casualty in a crisis exacerbated by a glut of ships, many of which were built before the financial crisis when the global economy was healthier. It did, however, gain a reprieve when its ships were allowed to unload cargo that had been sitting around waiting for a resolution.

The Department of Commerce placed anti-dumping duty and countervailing duties on imports of welded stainless pressure pipe from India today. This was a final determination that affirmed Commerce’s previous preliminary determination in March.

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In the countervailing duties investigation, Commerce found that mandatory respondent Steamline Industries Limited received countervailable subsidies at a rate of 3.13% and that mandatory respondent Sunrise Stainless Private Limited, Sun Mark Stainless Pvt. Ltd., and Shah Foils Ltd. (collectively, “Sunrise Group”) received countervailable subsidies at a rate of 6.22%. Commerce assigned a final subsidy rate of 4.65% for all other producers/exporters in India.

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As a result of the affirmative final determinations, Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits equal to the applicable weighted-average dumping and subsidy margins.

Oil prices fell as Saudi Arabia poured cold water on a potential deal with other Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members and other countries such as Russia. China is threatening to place tariffs on sugar imports.

Crude Oil Selloff

Crude prices are selling off today, aided by Saudi comments that a decision will not be forthcoming from next week’s Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Algiers.

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Many had thought that OPEC was close to reaching a deal to curtail production for up to a year with its members and non-member producers such as Russia, but the Saudi announcement makes it highly unlikely that any deal will happen soon now.

Clipperdata_OPEC_Production_500_092416

Source: Clipperdata.

Saudi Arabia has made production by regional rival Iran an issue in any deal to constrain production. The Saudis say Iran must abide by any deal just like other member-states and Iran and its allies say Iran should be allowed to bring its capacity up to full production, as it just re-entered markets after decades of sanctions, before it starts to cut.

China Explores Sugar Tariffs

China has launched a probe into soaring sugar imports following complaints by its domestic industry, the government said on Thursday, the latest sign that trade tensions between major commodities producing nations is intensifying.

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The Ministry of Commerce said the probe will look at imports since 2011 and into possible protectionist measures provided by foreign countries for their producers. It will last six months, with an option to extend the deadline, it said.

china shipping port title

Whether you’re a regular MetalMiner reader, or have never heard of us before, you’re likely familiar with the outsize role China has played in trading with the Western world — and especially with the United States.

That’s why we’ve taken the opportunity to dive deep on a nuanced issue that’s central to the U.S.-China relationship, now and into the future. Our new project, China vs. the World: Why the Battle for New Trade Status is Such a Huge Deal, explores how China’s approach to global trade over the past several decades has affected American commerce (for better and worse), and how something called “market economy status” could change the rules of the game as we know it.

In the latest move, U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN), the chairman and vice-chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, respectively, introduced a House resolution calling on the current Administration to take action on this very issue. But resolving the issue will likely be a longer battle.

While the mainstream media has taken advantage of reporting presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s numerous references to China and his blunt stance on how he intends to change our relationship with that country, MetalMiner’s journalists and editors set out to unpack the tangible drivers behind these types of general sentiments, with a particular focus on — and for — U.S. manufacturing organizations.

Among the highlights:

  • The most comprehensive — yet easily understandable — exploration of what “market economy status” (MES) entails, why China is pushing the U.S. and Europe to grant the country MES, and what that would mean for trade, available today.
  • Our explainer video provides a quick ‘101’ on the topic, and an interactive timeline explores how China got from the dawn of Mao to WTO entry to today, step by step.
  • Personal video perspectives from key players across several different industries illustrate the China effect on American jobs, workers and approaches to business.

We hope you’ll find this type of project and its presentation refreshing and informative. If you like it, please share it with your networks! We welcome and value your feedback, so please feel free to send us a note at research@metalminer.com.

Thank you for reading,

Taras Berezowsky
Managing Editor

On the heels of six out of seven months of increasing levels of demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell just below the positive mark in August.

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An economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the August ABI score was 49.7, down from the mark of 51.5 in the previous month. This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).

“This is only the second month this year where demand for architectural services has declined and it is only by a fraction of a point,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “It doesn’t appear that this is the beginning of a broader downturn in the design and construction industry.”

OPEC members are now talking about a deal that lasts one year, whether that means curtailing production for that period is still unknown. Australia is attempting to collect $766 million in taxes.

OPEC Deal Could Last a Year

A possible deal to support oil prices by the world’s leading producer-countries may last for one year, the secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said on Tuesday, longer than other officials have indicated.

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OPEC and non-member producers including Russia are discussing a deal to stabilize the market by possibly freezing output, although key details such as the timing and baseline for any deal have yet to emerge.

BHP Vows to Fight Australian Tax Bill

BHP Billiton said it disagreed with Australian tax collectors’ assessment that the miner needs to pay $766 million in back taxes and charges for its Singapore commodities marketing hub, and that it could resort to court action to fight the claim.

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BHP is under investigation by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) for allegedly shifting billions of dollars in iron ore profits through marketing hubs in Singapore, where it operates under an effective tax rate of zero as part of a concessional tax deal.

Chinese authorities have frozen money invested by commodity trader Trafigura in a copper smelter there and Venezuela claims that an Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries  (OPEC) agreement to curtail production will come together soon.

Trafigura Sees its Chinese Copper Smelter Stake Frozen

Chinese authorities have frozen part of commodity trader Trafigura’s investment in a Chinese copper smelter as part of a years-long probe into the Swiss firm’s oil trading, according to documents from the police and banks reviewed by Reuters.

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In October, police in the northern Chinese city of Cangzhou, froze $32.9 million Trafigura Pte Ltd had injected into the metals project, a joint venture with Chinese metals producer Jinchuan Group Co Ltd  in the southwestern city of Fangchenggang, documents dated Oct. 28, 2015 show.

OPEC Output Deal Imminent?

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that OPEC and non-OPEC countries were close to reaching a deal to stabilize oil markets and that he aimed for a deal to be announced this month.

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OPEC members may call an extraordinary meeting to discuss oil prices if they reach consensus at an informal gathering in Algiers this month, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo said during a visit to Algeria, the country’s state news agency, APS, reported on Sunday. Venezuela’s economy has been facing complete collapse for more than a year now as oil prices have seen prices fall by more than half during that time.

The Commerce Department placed initial anti-dumping tariffs on imports of carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate (CTL plate) from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey late Friday.

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For the purpose of an anti-dumping investigation, dumping occurs when a foreign company sells a product in the U.S. at less than its fair value.

n the Brazil investigation, Commerce preliminarily found that dumping has occurred by mandatory respondents, Companhia Siderurgica Nacional and Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA, at a preliminary dumping margin of 74.52%. The dumping margin for the mandatory respondents was based on adverse facts available (AFA) as a result of their failure to cooperate in the investigation. Commerce assigned a preliminary dumping margin of 74.52% for all other producers/exporters in Brazil. Read more

China is planning a bailout of sorts for Bohai Steel Group and standards organization ASTM International wants to develop certifications for commercial space flight.

A New Lifeline for Bohai Steel

Financial authorities in Tianjin, China, plan to convert a portion of debt-stricken Bohai Steel Group‘s liabilities into bonds, according to rescue plans drawn up recently, the online financial magazine Caixin reported on Monday.

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According to the plan, high-quality assets from Bohai Steel will be restructured to form a new company, which will take on 50 billion Chinese yuan of the total debt. Officials met last week to discuss a comprehensive restructuring plan for the firm, which has liabilities of $28.78 billion (192 billion yuan) from 105 creditors.

ASTM Seeks To Develop Private Space Travel Standards

ASTM International will host an organizational meeting to potentially create a new technical committee that develops voluntary consensus standards for commercial spaceflight.

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This meeting comes in part as a result of the updated U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 (SPACE Act). The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) Standards Working Group is recommending the organization of the new group.

Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump recently said he would scrap some controversial EPA plans and rules and allow more drilling for oil and gas on federal lands. Steel companies applauded the Senate’s passage of a new water reclamation bill.

Trump Would Scrap Clean Power Plan

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released details Thursday of his proposed energy policy, which includes scrapping the Environmental Protection Agency‘s controversial Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rule.

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He also promised to open more federal lands and waters to oil and gas development.

Steel Companies Praise Water Bill

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) recently applauded the U.S. Senate’s passage, by a vote of 95-3, of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which will authorize more than $10 million worth of projects to improve navigation, replace and restore aging locks and dams, and provide aid to Flint, Mich. and other communities in need of replacing pipes, sewers and other drinking water infrastructure.