This Morning in Metals: Trump takes aim at steel imports from Mexico, Brazil

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This morning in metals news: President Donald Trump this Monday took aim at steel imports from Mexico and Brazil; the American Iron and Steel Institute responded to the development; and copper price surged to a two-year high.

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Trump targets steel from Brazil, Mexico

The Trump administration took aim at steel imports from Brazil and Mexico on Monday.

For the former, U.S. has opted to cut Brazil’s semi-finished steel quota for the remainder of the year.

“In light of recent deterioration in market conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic affecting domestic steel producers, the United States has deemed it necessary to reduce the remaining quota for Brazilian semi-finished steel products for the remainder of 2020 to 60,000 metric tons, down from 350,000, but will maintain existing quotas for other steel products,” the United States Trade Representative said in a release.

Meanwhile, consultations with Mexico will lead to increased supervision of its export levels of certain products. Mexico will institute a monitoring system to track export levels for standard pipe, mechanical tubing and semi-finished products, the USTR said.

AISI responds

Kevin Dempsey, interim president and CEO of AISI, issued a statement in response to the Trump administration’s moves vis-a-vis Mexican and Brazilian steel.

“While we are seeing some modest recent improvement in market conditions, the industry continues to face significant challenges due to the sharp drop in demand this year as a result of the pandemic,” Dempsey said. “So far in 2020, raw steel production is down 20 percent compared to the same period last year and steelmaking capacity utilization has only averaged approximately 66 percent this year so far, compared to nearly 81 percent during the same period last year.  These difficult conditions make the industry even more vulnerable to surges in imports.”

Copper price hits two-year high

Elsewhere, the copper price surged to a two-year high Tuesday, Reuters reported.

LME copper rose 1.5% to $6,770/mt after earlier reaching $6,830/mt — the highest since June 2018, per the report.

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