This Morning in Metals: U.S. steel imports rise in December

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This morning in metals news: U.S. steel imports in December picked up compared with the previous month; President Joe Biden’s nomination for secretary of commerce, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, faced her Senate confirmation hearing yesterday; and the E.U.’s ambassador to the United States called on Biden to reach a resolution on aluminum tariffs and the long-running subsidy saga between Airbus and Boeing.

Steel imports rise in December

U.S. steel imports reached 1.4 million tons in December, up from 1.2 million tons the previous month, the Census Bureau reported today.

Steel import rises were seen for oil country goods, plates in coils and hot rolled sheets. Meanwhile, imports declined for: blooms, billets, and slabs; reinforcing bars; and hot dipped sheets and galvanized strip.

In addition, imports surged from South Korea, rising from 115,332 metric tons in November to 201,332 metric tons in December.  Meanwhile, imports from Germany, Turkey and Thailand declined.

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Biden’s DOC pick on China, tariffs

With respect to trade policy, among the most important questions surrounding the Biden administration are how the new administration’s policy will compare with Trump’s on China and Section 232 tariffs (covering steel imports, in addition to aluminum).

On Tuesday, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo answered questions at her Senate hearing on the heels of her nomination for secretary of commerce.

However, after the hearing, questions still remain.

The Washington Post reported Raimondo promised an “aggressive” approach against China’s “unfair” trade practices. However, she did not detail how she would approach the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed in 2018.

E.U. ambassador calls on Biden to nix aluminum tariffs

Meanwhile, in Europe, the E.U. ambassador to the U.S. has called on President Joe Biden to remove the aforementioned aluminum tariffs and resolve the dispute over subsidies for airplane manufacturers Boeing and Airbus, Reuters reported.

Furthermore, the ambassador, Stavros Lambrinidis, also called on the U.S. to allow for the work of the WTO’s Appellate Body to restart. During the Trump administration, the U.S. blocked the appointment of new judges, leaving the body without a quorum to hear new appeals.

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