This Morning in Metals: Mexico Expects U.S. to Lift Metals Tariffs with USMCA Signing

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This morning in metals news, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S. told news agency McClatchy he expects the U.S. to lift its steel and aluminum tariffs, world aluminum production jumped in October, and Norilsk Nickel says it is willing to work with London-listed Kaz Minerals on a copper project in Russia.

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Goodbye, Tariffs?

In an interview with McClatchy, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., Geronimo Gutierrez, said Mexico expects the U.S. will lift its tariffs on steel and aluminum vis-a-vis Mexico after the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The USMCA is slated to supersede the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The U.S. first reached a deal with Mexico, with Canada coming on afterward. However, despite the deal reached at the end of September, the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum remained in effect with respect to imports from Canada and Mexico, which has remained a primary sticking point for the two countries in the weeks following the USMCA announcement.

The two countries initially won temporary exemptions from the Section 232 tariffs this spring, but the exemptions were allowed to expire as of June 1.

MetalMiner’s Take: One of the most frequently asked questions from MetalMiner readers involves how long the Trump administration would maintain the Section 232 tariffs.

Throughout much of the year, MetalMiner has said the tariffs will remain in place for the mid-term (6-9 months). USMCA will likely result in some modifications on 232, either through exemptions or quotas. Despite a potential 232 adjustment for USMCA, MetalMiner believes the tariffs will remain intact.

Aluminum Production Rises

Global aluminum production in October jumped 4% year over year, according to International Aluminum Institute data released today.

October production reached 5.4 million net tons, up from 5.2 million net tons in October 2017.

Norilsk Nickel Indicates it Could Work With Kaz Minerals

As reported by the Financial Times, palladium and nickel giant Norilsk Nickel has said it is willing to partner with Kaz Minerals on the latter’s Baimskaya copper project in Russia’s Chukotka region.

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The London-listed Kaz Minerals purchased the Baimskaya project in August for $900 million in cash and shares.

According to a Kaz release at the time, the Baimskaya project is “one of the world’s most significant undeveloped copper assets with the potential to become a large scale, low cost, open pit copper mine.”

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