This morning in metals news: U.S. steel capacity utilization reached 65.1% for the week ending Sept. 12, the World Trade Organization released a report covering the U.S.’s Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods; and the copper price approached a two-year high.
Before we head into the long Labor Day weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was in the world of metals.
Automakers released August sales reports, mostly showing sales remain down compared with 2019 levels.
Meanwhile, for the week ending Aug. 29, U.S. steel mills’ capacity utilization fell compared with the previous week, interrupting an extended stretch of weekly capacity increases.
In other news, President Donald Trump took aim at steel imports from Brazil and Mexico. With respect to Brazil, Trump opted to cut Brazil’s semi-finished steel quota for the remainder of the year down to 60,000 tons from 350,000 tons.
This morning in metals news: copper on the SHFE is headed for its fifth straight month of price increases; a Swedish joint venture is ramping up its efforts toward producing fossil-fuel-free steel; and Mexico is instituting a new export pre-approval process to avoid reimposition of steel tariffs by U.S. President Donald Trump.
In particular, the JV is looking to remove coking coal from the equation, Bloomberg reports. Instead, the steel production process would feature hydrogen and other forms of clean energy.
SSAB AB, LKAB and Vattenfall AB are the operators of the JV.
Mexico to institute steel export pre-approval process
On the heels of President Donald Trump’s recent reimposition of the 10% Section 232 tariff on some Canadian aluminum, the Mexican government is hoping to avoid a similar outcome for its steel exports to the U.S.
According to Bloomberg, Mexico is putting into place a new pre-approval process for steel exports.
In short, the approval process — which would go into effect Sept. 4 — would confirm the steel exports did not pass through a third country.
This morning in metals news: China’s steel purchases from neighbor India have jumped this year; Japan’s Nippon Steel is wary of China’s steel dominance; and the U.S. trade deficit in goods increased in July.
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China ramps up Indian steel purchases
Despite border tensions earlier this year that led to skirmishes between Chinese and Indian soldiers, China continued to buy record amounts of Indian steel.
Between April and July, Indian steel exports reached their highest level in six years, Reuters reported. Furthermore, China’s share of those exports reached its highest level ever.
China’s steel sector against the world
Speaking of China and steel, the executive vice president of Nippon Steel Corp. expressed concern over the fact that China could be set to further control the global steel market.
“Chinese steelmakers are working hard on product development,” Katsuhiro Miyamoto, executive vice president of Nippon Steel Corp., Bloomberg quoted him as saying. “We must stay ahead of them.”
This morning in metals news: Liberty Steel Group announced it plans to acquire several French steel assets; the nationwide aluminum can shortage is impacting brewers; and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) last week announced changes to its $7.5 billion tariff package on European goods.
In addition, Liberty will acquire the Ascoval steelworks.
Hayange produces steel rails for French infrastructure clients, including national rail operator SNCF and metro system operator RATP. The Hayange site employs around 430 people and produces over 300,000 tonnes of rail per year.
Meanwhile, Ascoval employs around 270 people and produces 600,000 tonnes of steel blooms, billets and other forged products using recycled steel.
“Today is a landmark moment for the workers of Hayange and Ascoval, for the French steel industry, and for LIBERTY Steel Group’s GREENSTEEL ambitions in France,” said Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of GFG Alliance. “We have been interested in both of these sites for many years and have always believed that their futures were interlinked. We will revive both businesses, in a partnership supported by the extended GFG Alliance family, which I believe will be able to connect them to bigger opportunities in the market, host downstream developments, and provide additional demand for Ascoval’s steel.”
Aluminum can shortage impacts breweries
While the aluminum can may be something many take for granted, that sentiment is fading amid current market conditions.
A nationwide aluminum can shortage has impacted beverage makers, forcing some companies to focus on their more popular brands (to the chagrin of fans of some niche brands).
As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, the aluminum can shortage has impacted the local brewing scene.
Tom Berg, who opened the Falling Knife Brewing Co. in Minneapolis last year with two friends, lamented the state of aluminum can supply.
“The bigger breweries have a tendency to hoard stuff; they’re probably sitting on pallets and pallets of cans,” Berg told the Star Tribune. “We kind of buy to order, because we don’t have the warehouse space. If we can’t find any cans, we’re totally up the river.”
USTR modifies $7.5B tariff package awarded by WTO
As part of the ongoing saga over subsidies by the U.S. and Europe for their respective airplane manufacturers Boeing and Airbus, the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year ruled in the U.S.’s favor.
As a result, the trade body gave the U.S. the green light to impose up to $7.5 billion worth of tariffs on E.U. goods.
The USTR said it is removing some products from Greece and the United Kingdom from the tariff list. In turn, it is adding an “equivalent amount of trade from France and Germany.”
The changes will take effect Sept. 1, 2020.
“The EU and member states have not taken the actions necessary to come into compliance with WTO decisions,” USTR Robert Lighthizer said. “The United States, however, is committed to obtaining a long-term resolution to this dispute.”
This morning in metals news: the United States International Trade Commission asked for an additional $2.75 million in its budget to help it toward implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA); the World Gold Council released its H1 2020 report; and U.S. beverage makers are grappling with an aluminum can shortage.
This morning in metals news: the U.S. Court of International Trade ruled the U.S.’s doubling of Section 232 steel tariffs for imports from Turkey in 2018 violated the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection guarantees; Western Copper and Gold announced an increase in its mineral reserves; and Alcoa released its second-quarter earnings results.
This morning in metals news, the U.S. steel sector again posted another incremental rise in its steel capacity utilization rate, Freeport-McMoRan adjusted its Q2 copper sales estimates and the Airbus–Boeing tariff saga continues.
MetalMiner had the opportunity today to interview respected geopolitical intelligence firmStratfor, acquired earlier this year by RANE (Risk Assistance Network + Exchange)and quiz Rodger Baker, Stratfor’s senior VP of strategic analysis, on forthcoming sanctions against China.