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This morning in metals news, exports from China to the U.S. took a dive in December, India will drive global steel demand in the coming years and Serbia has requested an exemption from the E.U.’s imminent quotas on steel imports.

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December Exports to the U.S. from China Drop

While the U.S. and China have kickstarted the new year with trade talks that have some feeling optimistic of a resolution, U.S. tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports appear to have had an effect on trade flows last month.

According to a report by the Associated Press, China’s exports to the U.S. fell in December, down 3.5% compared with December 2017.

For the year as a whole, however, China’s exports to the U.S. in 2018 were up 11.3%, according to the report.

Indian Steel Demand

India last year overtook Japan as the No. 2 steel producer in the world, according to data from the World Steel Association last month.

And per a recent post by Adam Szewczyk, head of data management for the World Steel Association, Indian steel demand will likely continue to drive production growth.

“According to worldsteel’s October Short Range Outlook, it is likely that India will also become #2 in steel use by the end of 2019 as its steel demand is expected to grow by 7.3%,” Szewczyk wrote.

“The Indian steel industry, after recovering from the twin shocks of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) reform, is one of the few bright spots for the world’s steel industry in what is forecasted to be a lower growth era.”

Serbia Requests Exemption From E.U. Steel Quota

With E.U. member states set to vote on new steel quotas Wednesday — in response to the U.S.’s implementation of a 25% steel tariff last year, pursuant to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 — one country has already asked for an exemption.

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According to a Reuters report, Serbia, home to the Chinese-owned Zelezara Smederevo mill, has asked for an exemption from the quotas, which is expected to be approved by E.U. member states and will cover 26 product categories.

If approved, the safeguard measures would replace provisional measures passed in July 2018.

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Climate change and its effects are of great concern — governments are aiming to hit short- and long-term clean energy targets and curb pollution, many individuals are striving to live greener lives and automakers are beginning the transition toward electric vehicles.

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Climate change has already had — and will continue to have — major impacts on our lives and ecosystems around the world.

Of course, as a result of all this, climate change will also have a significant impact on trade and the flow of goods (which, from a metals perspective, can only serve to drive up prices).

A 2009 report by the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme included a brief section identifying two primary impacts of climate change on trade.

“First, climate change may alter countries’ comparative advantages and lead to shifts in the pattern of international trade,” the 2009 report states. “This effect will be stronger on those countries whose comparative advantage stems from climatic or geophysical reasons. Countries or regions that are more reliant on agriculture may experience a reduction in exports if future warming and more frequent extreme weather events result in a reduction in crop yields.”

The report also noted climate change’s impact on supply chains: “Second, climate change may increase the vulnerability of the supply, transport and distribution chains upon which international trade depends. … Extreme weather events (such as hurricanes) may temporarily close ports or transport routes and damage infrastructure critical to trade. Transportation routes in permafrost zones may be negatively affected by higher temperatures, which would shorten the length of time that roads would be passable during winters.”

Fast forward almost a decade, when the recent National Climate Assessment outlined the impact of climate change on various aspects of life, including transportation, air quality, land use and water, among other categories. The assessment is mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which requires the U.S. Global Change Research Program to submit a report to Congress and the president no less than every four years.

As many are by now aware, the ramifications of climate change — and inaction in the face of it — are dire.