This Morning in Metals: U.S. Trade Deficit with China Reaches Record High in 2018

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This morning in metals news, the U.S.’s trade deficit with China reached an all-time high in 2018, one analyst says there’s a 35% chance U.S.-China trade talks will break down and aluminum maker Norsk Hydro’s technology pilot is up for a Green Award in the category of Innovation of the Year.

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U.S. Notches Record Trade Deficit with China

Among President Donald Trump’s oft-stated goals vis-a-vis trade talks with China is the reduction of the U.S. trade deficit with China.

However, despite a series of tariffs aimed at Chinese goods (the U.S. imposed a total of $250 billion worth of tariffs on goods from China last year), the deficit reached an all-time high in 2018.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the trade deficit rose from $375.6 billion in 2017 to $419.2 billion in 2018.

Communication Breakdown

Optimistic reports have come out of the White House of late with respect to the ongoing trade talks with China, with some media reports indicating a trade deal could be reached by the end of this month.

However, according to one analyst, there’s still a sizable chance talks could break down.

According to Eurasia Group analyst Jeff Wright, there is a 35% chance the talks will break down before a deal can be reached, Yahoo Finance reported.

“The current momentum behind a deal does not reduce the risk of major frictions once the two sides turn towards implementation,” Wright told Yahoo Finance.

In addition to the trade deficit, the U.S. has raised a bevy of allegations related to what it deems as China’s unfair trade practices, from intellectual property theft to forced technology transfer, among other complaints.

In August 2017, the United States Trade Representative, at the direction of the president, opened a Section 301 investigation into China’s trade practices; the investigation ultimately yielded the total $250 billion worth of tariffs imposed last year.

Norsk Hydro Nominated for Green Award

Aluminum maker Norsk Hydro was nominated for a Green Award in the category of innovation for its technology pilot in Karmøy, Norway.

“A lot of Hydro people have put so much effort into making the technology pilot a reality. They deserve this award,” said Thorvald Mellerud, head of technology in Hydro Primary Metal.

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The operation in Karmøy has been fully operational since June 2018 and “aims to verify at an industrial scale the world’s most energy and climate-efficient technology for aluminium production,” Norsk Hydro said in a release, adding that energy consumption will be reduced by 15%.

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