This Morning in Metals: Clock Ticks on NAFTA Talks

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This morning in metals news, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan sets a deadline for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks, steel imports are up through the first four months of the year, and Pew survey data sheds light on Americans’ opinions on free-trade deals and the Trump administration’s Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs.

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Ryan Sets Deadline for NAFTA Talks

According to a Reuters report, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has set a May 17 deadline for a NAFTA deal to be sent to the current Congress for approval.

Negotiators from the three NAFTA countries have been meeting in Washington since Monday, according to the report.

AISI Releases April Import Data

According to import data from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), imports of finished steel last month were up 17.6% from the final total of imported steel in March.

In addition, the finished steel import market share was 29% in April, up from the year-to-date figure of 26%.

Partisan Divide on 232 Tariffs

According to survey data from the Pew Research Center, Americans’ views on the Trump administration’s Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum fall sharply along partisan lines (unsurprisingly).

“Republicans generally have a positive view of potential increases in tariffs on steel and aluminum imports,” according to the Pew report. “About six-in-ten (58%) say they would be good for the country, while just 26% say such tariff increases would be bad for the country. Democratic opinion is the opposite: Only 22% of Democrats think increasing steel and aluminum tariffs would be good for the U.S., while 63% say they would be bad for the country.”

However, it should be noted that the issue of steel and aluminum tariffs, while firmly positioned front and center in metals industry watchers, seemingly isn’t at the forefront of Americans’ minds.

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“While the Trump administration’s proposals to increase tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from other countries have drawn significant attention among business interests and foreign leaders, a substantial share of the U.S. public has heard little or nothing about these proposals,” the report continues.

“Just 29% of the public says it has heard “a lot” about proposals to raise tariffs on steel and aluminum, and 41% say they have heard “a little.” Roughly three-in-ten (29%) say they have heard “nothing at all” about these proposals.”

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