This Morning in Metals: U.S. Tariff Increase on Chinese Goods Goes into Effect

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This morning in metals news, the U.S. on Friday raised tariffs on a wide variety of imports from China, a long-considered European joint venture does not appear likely to come to fruition and March steel imports fell 7%.

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Tariff Tensions

As promised earlier this week, the U.S. today raised the tariff rate on a wide variety of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%.

Despite general sentiment in recent weeks indicating the U.S. and China were nearing a deal, President Donald Trump this week said the U.S. would raise the tariff rate on Friday if a deal was not reached.

The deadline came and went with no deal, thus seeing the increase on the duties assessed to the $200 billion in imports from China announced in September 2018.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it would respond to the U.S. tariff increase with “necessary countermeasures.”

Tata-Thyssenkrupp JV Falls Apart

Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp last year agreed to merge their European operations, forming what would be Europe’s second-largest steelmaker.

However, the proposed joint venture has been under scrutiny from Europe’s competition authorities, which launched an investigation in October 2018 over concerns the merger would result in fewer choices and higher prices for consumers.

Now, over six months later, it appears the joint venture will not come to fruition.

On Friday, Tata Steel said “the feedback from the Commission based on the market test it has undertaken suggests that it is unlikely to clear the proposal in spite of the significant remedies offered.”

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U.S. Steel Imports Fall

U.S. imports of steel totaled 2.27 million tons in March, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), marking 6.6% decrease from the February import total. Meanwhile, the U.S imported 8.18 million tons of steel in the first quarter, down 5.9% from Q1 2018.

Steel import market share in March was an estimated 19% and 21% for the first quarter.

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