As we give thanks to all of the service men and women who defended our freedom today, let us also remember the international trade pacts and enforcement bodies created to keep wars and conflicts from ever being fought again over such things as one nation illegally exporting millions of tons of its products into another nation. Which only happened at least nine times before.
Here at the MetalMiner week-in-review, let’s give thanks that such wars are no longer fought in anything but the World Trade Organization and look back at some of the very, very cold trade wars looming and what can be done about them now.
China Now Admitting Dumping
The Chinese have previously taken the tack of apologizing for their domestic steel industry. Highly subsidized at the state and national level, Chinese steel companies have been accused of dumping in the US, EU and elsewhere. Previously, officials from Beijing have thrown their hands up and essentially said “we’re trying to get the situation under control.”
That all changed last week. Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said the rise in steel exports is due to higher global demand and is a result of Chinese steel products having strong “export competitiveness.”
Export Competitive US GOES
What a novel concept! Maybe if our government subsidized AK Steel and Allegheny Technologies as heavily as China does, say, Baosteel Group at the state and national levels US grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) could be as “export competitive!”
The EU is already mad at us for, yes, dumping GOES there. Seriously. The European Commission has just set tariffs on imports of GOES following a complaint lodged in June 2014 by the European steel producers’ association, Eurofer. There are only about 16 manufacturers of GOES in the world, so, keeping any US exports out of Europe will significantly affect prices.
The World’s Dumbest Trade ‘War’
Okay, so trade agreements may not have made the steel industry harmonious and happy. Surely most metals are okay, right? Hasn’t the green energy movement made the production of, say, solar panels seamless? Surely you jest.
The spat between the US and China over solar panels has been called by Slate and others the dumbest trade war in the world. And it is. A German company, SolarWorld, has a US subsidiary that has secured duties against Chinese manufacturers of inexpensive silicon solar panels. And bulk silicon. The fight is threatening adoption of solar in the US and driving up the price of other silicon products.
Thanks a lot, Germany.
While we’re thankful that our trade wars aren’t real wars, trade agreements haven’t exactly delivered on the promise of an even international playing field, either. The MetalMiner week-in-review suggests domestic manufacturers do everything they can to stay “export competitive” because foreign governments are certainly doing so to help their manufacturers.