This Morning in Metals: US, EU reach deal on Section 232 steel, aluminum tariffs

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This morning in metals news: the U.S. and E.U. have struck a deal that will see to the former resuming imports of duty-free steel and aluminum from the E.U.; battery storage applications have shifted, the Energy Information Administration explained; and, lastly, compensation costs increased during Q3 2021.

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US, EU reach deal on Section 232 tariffs

tariffs text on top of US currency

zimmytws/AdobeStock

In a move toward deescalating transatlantic trade tensions that have simmered since the Trump administration imposed Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs in 2018, the Biden administration announced a deal over the weekend that will see to the U.S. once again importing duty-free European steel and aluminum.

In March 2018, former President Donald Trump used Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, citing national security concerns. Canada, Mexico and the E.U. initially had exemptions to the tariffs. However, those exemptions eventually expired.

As a result, tensions between the U.S. and E.U. grew, as the latter imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

On Saturday, however, the parties announced a step toward trade deescalation.

“The agreements announced today delivers on President Biden’s vision to repair relationships with our European partners while also helping to ensure the long-term viability of our steel and aluminum industries, the communities they support, and most importantly, the workers in these industries on both sides of the Atlantic,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said. “In addition to the EU eliminating the retaliatory tariffs against the United States, we have agreed to suspend the WTO disputes against each other related to the 232 disputes.

“With this dispute behind us, we are in a stronger position to address global overcapacity from China with an enhanced enforcement mechanism to prevent leakage of Chinese steel and aluminum into the U.S. market. And the deal is a significant win on one of President Biden’s top priorities – fighting climate change.”

The U.S. will resume importing duty-free free aluminum and steel from the E.U. “in line with historical trade flows.”

Changing battery storage applications

Battery storage applications have shifted, the Energy Information Administration reported today.

For example, utility-scale battery storage for frequency regulation accounted for 59% of total battery capacity reporting this use.

“Frequency response is a service that maintains grid frequency as close to 60 hertz (Hz) as reasonably possible,” the EIA said. “Deviations below 60 Hz can lead to protective generator trips that result in a subsequent decline in system stability. Batteries are particularly well suited for frequency regulation because their output does not require any startup time and batteries can quickly absorb surges.”

Compensation costs rise

Compensation costs during the quarter ending in September rose by 1.3%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Wages and salaries increased by 1.5% from June 2021. Meanwhile, benefit costs increased by 0.9%.

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