This Morning in Metals: Steel capacity utilization falls to 84.8%

This morning in metals news: U.S. steel capacity utilization dipped to 84.8% last week; meanwhile, General Motors signed a memorandum of understanding with GE Renewable Energy to develop a rare earths supply chain; and, lastly, the United States Trade Representative commented on potential targeted exclusions for the Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods implemented during the Trump administration.
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US steel capacity utilization at 84.8%

steelmaking in an EAF
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U.S. steel capacity utilization fell to 84.8% for the week ending Oct. 2, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.
The rate dipped from 85.2% the previous week. Meanwhile, steel output last week totaled 1.87 million net tons, AISI reported. The total marked a 0.4% decline from the previous week but a 21.6% year-over-year increase.
Production in the year to date reached 71.4 million net tons, up 20.3% year over year.

GM, GE Renewable Energy sign MoU

General Motors and GM Renewable Energy have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) through which they will work to develop a supply chain for rare earths and other materials needed for electric vehicles and renewable energy.

Through the MoU, the parties will “evaluate opportunities to improve supplies of heavy and light rare earth materials and magnets, copper and electrical steel used for manufacturing of electric vehicles and renewable energy equipment.”
The collaboration will focus initially on a North America- and Europe-based supply chain of vertically integrated magnet manufacturing.

USTR on Section 301 tariff exclusions

Former President Donald Trump’s administration launched a Section 301 investigation in August 2017 covering China and allegations of forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft, among other things.
Ultimately, the U.S. and China traded hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs on each other’s goods. However, in January 2020, the two countries signed a Phase One agreement that aimed to ease tensions. The agreement called for, among other things, China to expand purchases of U.S. goods by $200 billion in 2020 and 2021.
Fast forward to the present day, and the U.S. is mulling potential targeted exclusions for products subject to the aforementioned Section 301 tariffs.
“The exclusions process is a key part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s deliberative, long-term vision for realigning the U.S. – China trade relationship around our priorities and making trade work for American workers and businesses,” the USTR said in a release.
Furthermore, USTR Katherine Tai will discuss with China its performance related to the terms of the Phase One deal.
During comments delivered Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Tai expressed “serious concerns with China’s state-centered and non-market trade practices that were not addressed in the Phase One deal.”
“As we work to enforce the terms of Phase One, we will raise these broader policy concerns with Beijing,” Tai said.
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