International Trade Issues Why We're At a Breaking Point

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President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington, D.C., and Chicago last week frames the current international trade debate very nicely, and serves as a backdrop for a number of questions and issues surrounding the key global relationships between the world’s largest and up-and-coming economies not least of which is the US-China saga.

As the US and China grow increasingly intertwined in trade, the real and perceived snags that conspire to slow down even potentially derail their relationship get proportionally outsized. But other countries factor into the fray as well.

Here are some issues we’re keeping an eye on that are sure to spur debate at MetalMiner and Spend Matters’ upcoming March 1 conference:

WTO Rulings and the Anti-Dumping Landscape

“In the light of the above findings, we conclude that the United States acted inconsistently with the first sentence of Article 2.4.2 of the Anti-Dumping Agreement by using the zeroing methodology in calculating certain margins of dumping in the three investigations involving Korean products.

That is the first clause of the most recent WTO report on the complaint brought against the US by Korea. The details surrounding KORUS (the Free Trade Agreement between the two nations) should make for a lively discussion, as a lot is at stake for both countries. Read more on this in the posts below:

US Trade Deficit Outlook and Its Impact on Industrial Metals

Steel and the US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement

The Currency Wars

New currency bills may be introduced this week, which propose imposing countervailing duties on countries that artificially devalue their currency.

This news or should we say, old news, since versions of these currency bills have been buffeted about for the better part of a year now ups the stakes and aims to attack the unfair policies instituted by Beijing with legislation instead of sweet-talking. Although President Hu defended their currency policy, saying that Chinese products have saved US consumers about $600 billion.

Strong words also come from Brazil. The country’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, is the one who coined the term “currency war back in 2006; according to the Financial Times, he recently assessed the current scenario: “This is a currency war that is turning into a trade war. The exchange rate is one of the main drivers of economic policy, more so even than productivity,” he said. According to Mantega, Brazil is losing out to the tune of $6 billion in trade with the US (down from a $15 billion surplus), and the Brazilian real has appreciated 39 percent against the dollar.

In other words, BRIC economies and other up-and-comers will continue to get increasingly frustrated with Renminbi-Dollar tussle, as it directly affects their trade situations.

Check out this recent MetalMiner post that delves further into currency issues:

QE2: In the Currency Game, How do You Play With a Cheater?

Government and Industry Initiatives

A big point of contention has been the degree to which industry needs the government to help remedy trade imbalances, and by extension, the private sector’s bottom lines. The consensus seems to be that a healthy balance between the two parties must be struck; otherwise, not much will be accomplished.

Just one of the several “initiatives I use quotes because we’re all not yet sure how they will work in the end proposed by the US Commerce Department, among others, has been the International Buyer Program (IBP). Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke pushed the importance of this initiative, which “matches international buyers with U.S. companies that want to export. The Program recruited 34 delegations, consisting of 700 delegates from key markets such as China, Brazil, Vietnam, and Indonesia, to this year’s show an increase of over 30 percent from the 2010 show.

More on how the government and the (metals) manufacturing industry could best work together at the link below:

Ten New Manufacturing Ideas for the 112th US Congress

Also, read about how MetalMiner sponsor Nucor proposes to make trade fair(er) on The Huffington Post.

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MetalMiner and its sister site, Spend Matters, along with Nucor, will host a live simulcast, International Trade Breaking Point on March 1, 2011. If your company sources products from overseas, you will not want to miss this half-day event:

Register for the live simulcast today!

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