This Morning in Metals: U.S., China Fire Tariff Salvos

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Ezio Gutzemberg/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, the U.S. and China trade tariff jabs, the steel import market share numbers for June are in and thyssenkrupp CEO Heinrich Hiesinger offers his resignation just days after the German firm’s finalization of a merger deal with Tata Steel.

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Trade Tensions Rise

At midnight, $34 billion of the U.S.’s previously announced $60 billion tariff package on Chinese goods went into effect. As previously indicated, China responded in kind, placing $34 billion in tariffs on American goods.

According to the Xinhua news agency, China’s 25% tariff will include agricultural products, vehicles and aquatic products. A China Ministry of Commerce spokesperson said the U.S. has acted like a “trade bully” that poses a “great threat to the security of global industry and value chains.”

Echoing previous comments from Chinese government officials, Premier Li Keqiang said that no one will win a trade war, but that China is “prepared to take countermeasures in the face of unilateral moves.”

Steel Imports Hit 22% Market Share in June

According to the American Iron and Steel Institute’s (AISI) report on steel imports in June, import permit applications were down 3.7% compared with the previous month. Steel import permit applications for June totaled 2,894,000 net tons (NT).

The countries with the largest finished steel import permit applications in June were: South Korea (206,000 NT, up 88% from May preliminary), Japan (134,000 NT, up 11%), Germany (105,000 NT, down 25%), Taiwan (103,000 NT, up 32%) and Vietnam (88,000 NT, up 18%).

Thyssenkrupp CEO Offers Resignation

It’s been a busy week for the German steelmaker.

Heinrich Hiesinger, CEO of thyssenkrupp AG since 2011, has offered up resignation just days after the German company finalized a merger deal with Indian firm Tata Steel, Reuters reported (the deal would merge the firms’ European operations to create Europe’s second-largest steelmaker, behind ArcelorMittal).

“Today I informed the Supervisory Board that I would like to step down from my position as CEO of thyssenkrupp,” Heisinger said in a prepared statement. “I take this step very consciously to enable a fundamental discussion in the Supervisory Board on the future of thyssenkrupp. A joint understanding of Board and Supervisory Board on the strategic direction of a company is a key pre-requisite for successfully leading a company. The broad support of our shareholders and the Supervisory Board was the basis for the success of our Strategic Way Forward since 2011.

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“This path always balanced the interests of our customers, employees and shareholders. Today thyssenkrupp is a completely different company regarding culture, values and performance. The joint venture of our steel activities with Tata is the next significant step to turn thyssenkrupp into a strong industrial company. We can be proud of what we achieved until now. For this I would like to thank all employees. They are the most valuable capital of thyssenkrupp.”

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