This morning in metals news, the Trump administration and House Democrats have reached a deal on the revised United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the U.S. steel industry saw its capacity utilization inch further downward in the year to date, and U.S. steel shipments jumped 1.9% in October.
White House, Democrats reach deal on USMCA
Finally, after months and months of back and forth, the White House and House Democrats have reached a deal on a revised iteration of the USMCA.
Earlier this morning, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal held a joint press conference hailing the agreement on the trade deal, which would serve as the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if approved.
“It’s a victory for America’s workers and it’s one we take great pride in advancing,” Pelosi said Tuesday morning during a press conference in Washington D.C., adding that the current iteration of the deal is better than the original one.
Neal, meanwhile, called the deal not just a “triumph for organized labor” but a “triumph for workers across America,” citing support from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Trumka tweeted Tuesday morning, “Make no mistake, we demanded a trade deal that benefits workers and fought every single day to negotiate that deal; and now we have secured an agreement that working people can proudly support. #USMCA.”
Neal reiterated that much of the discussions focused on the issue of enforceability, arguing that a lack of enforceability marked the largest challenge to the trade deal.
“USMCA will deserve a vote because it’s an agreement that Democrats shaped,” said Neal, who also joked he and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer likely set a world record in terms of hanging up the phone on each other during negotiations.
Ahead of the press conference, President Donald Trump touted the deal.
“America’s great USMCA Trade Bill is looking good,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody – Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions – tremendous support. Importantly, we will finally end our Country’s worst Trade Deal, NAFTA!”
The top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee also touted the deal.
“President Trump and Amb. Lighthizer have fought hard and delivered on their promise for a pro-growth and modern trade pact with our North American neighbors, after much delay by Democrats,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) said. “Now it’s time for the U.S. Congress to pass USMCA as soon as possible, without further delay, to unlock the benefits of this agreement for U.S. workers, farmers, tech workers, and our local businesses. This agreement means new jobs, more customers for Made-in-America goods, and a stronger economy.”
Late last year, Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the USMCA; however, each country’s legislature must ratify the deal.
Although Congress appears to be poised to vote, Mexico’s legislature is the only one of the three countries to ratify the deal thus far.
Steel capacity utilization drops to 80.1%
The U.S. steel industry’s steel capacity utilization rate has inched downward in recent months.
For the year through Dec. 7, capacity utilization fell to 80.1%, down from 80.2% the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).
Steel production in the year to date totaled 90.74 million tons.
October steel shipments rise 1.9%
U.S. steel mills shipped 7.9 million net tons of steel in October, AISI reported, marking a 1.9% increase compared with the previous month.
Through the first 10 months of the year, shipments reached 80.5 million tons, up 1.1% from the same period in 2018.