US steel import tariff could hurt South African steel sector - SEIFSA

Mae Love
February 21, 2018

"The US is a major destination for Japan-origin HRC due to demand from its automotive manufacturing sector".

"There's a necessity to that imported material", said Philip Gibbs, a metals analyst for KeyBanc Capital Markets.

New York's senior senator is urging the president to enact a recommendation from the U.S. Commerce Department to impose tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports.

The US steel companies and trade unions in the industry have long asked Donald Trump to fulfill his promise to protect the industry. The report with the recommendation, presented by department Secretary Wilbur Ross, says USA imports of steel are almost four times its exports.

Each of these remedies is meant to increase domestic steel production from its present 73% of capacity to approximately an 80% operating rate, the minimum rate needed for the long-term viability of the industry.

Other market sources are expecting more trade negotiations between the United States and Japan to emerge, especially since both countries are close allies. The president has yet to say how his administration will act, but many expect tough actions based on Trump's protectionist views.

According to the industry, Japan-made steel tubes for piping and rails for mining railways are mainstay USA -bound products, both of which maintain high performance in harsh environments.

The problem is that Korea is the only key USA ally to have been recommended for the 53-percent tariff.

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Trump is expected to make a decision on tariffs and curbs in mid-April.

Other countries would be subject to a quota limiting their tariff-free access equal to their to the volume of their 2017 steel exports to the US.

"Soybean farmers look to the White House to move forward with a China strategy that strengthens the competitiveness of our domestic industries while at the same time growing our export opportunities". Japan also shipped 540,560 tonnes of specialty steel as well as 146,171 tonnes of secondary steel products to the United States in 2017. While Trump has regularly called for trade deals that benefit the United States more strongly, other voices from within the White House have argued, for example, that several of the United States' largest trading partners in steel are close US allies with important defense treaties. This is a year-on-year increase of 72.6%.

These manufacturers produced 3.98 million vehicles and 4.68 million engines in 2016 with a total cumulative manufacturing investment of $45.6 billion.

Last month, the U.S. International Trade Commission began investigating potential violations of tariff laws on data storage devices made by South Korea and China.

Komiyama said steel and aluminum shipped to the United States from Japan don't pose any threats to American security.

According to AOPL, the report and recommendations cover steel products - including seamless or welded pipe and tube products - in addition to raw steel imports.

That has irked the American Soybean Association (ASA), which warned the President that if he accepts the recommendations, he risks triggering a trade war that could see taxes slapped on Chinese imports of U.S. soybean, which were worth $14 billion past year.

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