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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

  • In case you missed it, our August MMI Report is out. Metals like copper and aluminum hit record highs, and nine of our 10 sub-indexes posted upward movement as a result of a strong July. Will that momentum continue? Check back next month for the September MMI report.
  • Many have predicted a decline for iron ore prices, but as our Stuart Burns wrote on Monday, reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. A weak U.S. dollar, combined with strong equities and global GDP, have helped keep iron ore performing well, not to mention Chinese steel and the wider metals market. Read through for Burns’ assessment of the iron ore market.
  • In India, a boom of bauxite production is expected, wrote our Sohrab Darabshaw. In fact, it is expected to more than double by 2021. How is that possible? One reason, Darabshaw writes, is “increased domestic demand for aluminium, which will largely be sourced from the quintupling of land under mining lease in the Odisha province (which has the bulk of India’s bauxite reserves).”
  • One commodity almost everyone is interested in is oil. On Tuesday, Burns wrote about the future of oil prices. But, since this is MetalMiner, after all, those prices also have an effect on metal markets.
  • Everyone loves a good M&A story, and Burns had one earlier this week on the ongoing talks between Indian steel giant Tata Steel and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp. Plus, he touches on ArcelorMittal’s takeover of Italy’s Ilva. Burns writes: “For the first time in years, steelmakers at least seem to have a plan and are actively pursuing it. Whether that plan is to the eventual benefit or detriment of consumers remains to be seen — but a healthier domestic steel industry must certainly be advantageous to all.”
  • How about zinc? Burns wrote about the metal’s rise to $3,000, and the reasons behind zinc’s price hitting its highest point since 2007.
  •  Last week was a busy one for the U.S. Department of Commerce, which handed down preliminary determinations in countervailing duty investigations for both Chinese aluminum and silicon coming from a trio of countries.
  • Back in India, steel exports are on the rise as the Indian government’s protectionist measures seem to be paying off for its domestic industry.
  • Lastly, representatives of the U.S., Canada and Mexico began talks on Wednesday regarding renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the trade deal instituted in 1994. The U.S. is focused on, among other things, bringing down ballooning trade deficits with the two countries (particularly Mexico). The talks are scheduled to continue until Sunday, so check back for updates on the proceedings.

Free Download: The August 2017 MMI Report

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Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the 23-year-old trilateral trade agreement, has been a talking point for President Donald Trump. After all, let’s not forget: during the first presidential debate last September, Trump called NAFTA “the worst trade deal ever signed, maybe anywhere.”

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

In January, Trump pulled the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiate under former President Barack Obama. In April, Trump reportedly nearly pulled the U.S. from NAFTA, but ultimately backed off after conversations with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

With that, the stage was then set for the first round of negotiations, which kicked off Aug. 16 in Washington, D.C. The talks are scheduled to continue until Aug. 20.

In recent months, the Trump administration made it clear that attacking the sizable trade deficits the U.S. has with Mexico and Canada will be a major focus of the negotiations. United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said as much in his opening statement:

“I’ve always thought that communities along our borders have a particular equity in this agreement. In many cases their lives, businesses, and families are very much on both sides of the dividing line,” Lighthizer said. “They too are hardworking men and women trying to raise a families and accumulate wealth. We must keep their interests paramount. But for countless Americans, this agreement has failed. We cannot ignore the huge trade deficits, the lost manufacturing jobs, the businesses that have closed or moved because of incentives — intended or not — in the current agreement.”

According to Census Bureau data, in 2016 the U.S. had a $64 billion trade deficit with Mexico and an $11 billion deficit with Canada. In 1994, when NAFTA went into effect, the U.S. had a $1.3 billion trade surplus with Mexico.

This year, from January-June, Census Bureau data show a nearly $36.3 billion trade deficit with Mexico and a $10.5 billion trade deficit with Canada.

As with most things, various stakeholders have differing opinions on the success of NAFTA.

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