Articles in Category: Exports

This morning in metals news: Chinese steel exports surged in June, according to General Administration of Customs data; meanwhile, the average cost for U.S. solar power construction continued to decline in 2019; and, lastly, Cleveland-Cliffs released its Sustainability Report 2020.

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Chinese steel exports jump in June

China map

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Chinese steel exports jumped by 23% to 6.49 million tons in June, the General Administration of Customs reported this week.

The country reported steel exports 5.27 million tons in May.

Meanwhile, exports of unwrought aluminum and aluminum products reached 454,397 tons in June, up from 439,097 tons in May.

In addition, exports of rare earths fell from 4,171 tons in May to 4,012 tons in June.

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Russia’s plan to introduce from Aug. 1 a temporary export duty on metal exports has brought varied reactions from European industry watchers and market participants.

“It’s about showing the strength of the Russian metals industry,” one analyst told MetalMiner.

Russia’s planned tariff may also be a retaliatory measure against Europe and its proposed carbon tax on metals imports from high-carbon producers, of which Russia is one, the analyst added.

“It feels like it is a broadside shot,” the analyst said.

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Russia export duty to cover steel, base metals

tariff

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The Russian Federal Government’s Decree No. 988 of June 25 stipulates a 15% export duty from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31 on all steel – semi-finished and finished – as well as on copper nickel, and low-grade aluminum leaving the country and the wider Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Member states of the EAEU include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. In addition, Cuba, Moldova and Uzbekistan are observer states.

One of the more likely beneficiaries in Europe from the duty is the steel sector, sources told MetalMiner.

“Everybody loves this,” one analyst said about Russia’s tentative export duty, as it could further push up already-high prices for steel products in Europe.

Domestically produced hot rolled coil for Q4 production within Western Europe is now €1,170-€1,200 ($1,390-1,420) per ton exw, traders said. That marks an increase from the €1,120-1,130 ($1,370-1,385) reported earlier in June.

Planned shutdowns of rolling equipment or banking of hot ends for maintenance over Europe’s summer months could also further push up prices in the face of high demand throughout Western Europe, the analyst stated.

One steel trader voiced a similar opinion.

“This is great for everybody” the trader noted, as the decree will push up steel prices on both the domestic and import markets.

“Who’s gonna wait until the end of the year to acquire steel if Russia is out of the market?” the trader rhetorically asked.

Ukraine’s Metinvest is likely to also benefit from this. The group is a major supplier of long products into the E.U. Resulting higher prices will also mean more revenue.

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China’s steel and aluminum market is undergoing a quiet revolution.

It’s not a revolution of investment or innovation.

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Peak aluminum, steel in China?

China aluminum

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According to Reuters, Beijing’s target of peak coal use by 2030 is asserting a dampening effect on new steel mill and aluminum smelter investment.

As such, the country could be at or near peak production. As Reuters’ Andy Home notes, the country’s rising output over the years as had a dampening effect on prices. That trend has led some Western producers to cease operations.

But a combination of harsher environmental legislation resulting in Beijing dissuading investment in new coal fired power projects, combined with Western markets’ meaningful action — after years of simply complaining — to block out Chinese exports of aluminum and steel products suggests the Chinese impetus to build capacity and the rest of the world’s willingness to buy product are both going through a transformational change.

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This morning in metals news: consultancy GlobalData forecast copper production from the top 10 copper mining companies will rise by up to 3.8% this year; meanwhile, the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs advanced a bill that aims to strengthen Buy American requirements; and, lastly, US import prices rose in April.

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

GlobalData: copper production from top 10 companies to rise by up to 3.8% in 2021

copper mine

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Amid a run of record copper prices, increased copper production this year could take some of the steam out of the market.

According to London-based consultancy GlobalData, copper production from the top 10 copper mining companies in the world could rise by up to 3.8% this year.

Meanwhile, output from the 10 companies — which includes Glencore, Antofagasta, BHP and Freeport-McMoRan — fell by 0.2% in 2021, GlobalData reported Thursday.

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rare earths loaded on cargo ship in China

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Although presented as the evil machinations of an enemy state, a recent Financial Times article lays out the rare earths dilemma China faces.

Rare earths in the crosshairs

Rare earths industry executives made unofficial statements indicating Chinese government officials had asked them how badly companies in the US and Europe, including defense contractors, would be affected if China restricted rare earth exports during a bilateral dispute.

The conversations should be seen against the backdrop of moves last month by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The ministry proposed draft controls on the production and export of 17 rare earth minerals from China. Although China doesn’t control the world supply of mined ores, it does dominate the refining into useable salts and metals, controlling about 80% of global supply.

Nonetheless, the country itself remains at risk to unstable ore supplies from countries like Myanmar. That may help explain Beijing’s tacit support for the recent military coup there.

The US even sends its ores to China for refining. That’s not because it doesn’t have the technical knowhow; the US simply lacks the facilities. Furthermore, China is more willing to tolerate the environmental damage from the dreadfully polluting refining process.

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

Rare earths supply dependence

This lack of refining capacity leaves the US and most of its Western allies horribly exposed.

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judge's gavel

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This morning in metals news: the United States Court of International Trade issued a ruling on the Section 232 steel tariff; meanwhile, the Biden administration has reversed a Trump administration decision regarding tariffs on aluminum from the United Arab Emirates; and, lastly, new orders for manufacturing goods rose for an eighth consecutive month in December.

USCIT dismisses Section 232 steel tariff challenge

In early 2018, former President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Using Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, Trump imposed tariffs of 25% for steel and 10% for aluminum.

It is unclear if the new Biden administration will ultimately rescind the tariffs in a blanket sense (more on that shortly).

However, a trade court has shot down a legal challenge from domestic businesses.

Universal Steel Products, Inc., PSK Steel Corporation, The Jordan International Company, Dayton Parts, LLC, and Borusan Mannesman Pipe U.S. Inc. challenged the steel tariff, claiming injury from the duty.

The plaintiffs argued procedural deficiency behind the Section 232 implementation process. In addition, they claimed the president and then-Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross did not identify an “impending threat” when imposing the tariffs. They also claimed Trump violated provisions of Section 232 by not setting a duration for the action.

However, the three-judge panel on the United States Court of International Trade opted to dismiss the plaintiffs’ cross-motion for partial summary judgment.

“There have been proposals put forward suggesting greater Congressional oversight, including hearings, or statutory amendments which would expand Congress’s role in the implementation and review of tariffs,” Judge Gary S. Katzmann said in his opinion. “Ultimately, of course, these are policy matters that fall within the province of the legislative branch; it is not the role of the court to opine about them.”

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Biden to reverse Trump course on UAE aluminum tariff

In other tariff news, Trump — in his final hours as president — moved to rescind the Section 232 aluminum tariff of 10% for imports from the UAE.

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India and US flags

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It is too early to talk of the direction US-India relations will take under US President Joe Biden’s administration.

But Indian trade circles are keeping a close eye on trade-related developments with a hopeful eye.

Hopes for better US-India relations

Much of the hope for better US-India relations focuses on the desire that the US will focus more on its bilateral ties with India because of the former’s strained relation with China, and why the US would benefit from such a move.

China will be on the new US administration’s mind as it assesses the Indo-US trade relationship. For now, though, the Biden administration has made it clear it would not considering any new free trade deals. Furthermore, it’s unclear whether the Biden administration will maintain or rescind existing Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs.

The two countries have a lot going on together. The two have a robust bilateral trade. Through the first 11 months of 2020, the U.S. imported goods from India worth $46.3 billion and exported about $24.6 billion in goods. In addition, the countries have cooperation in defense and an ever-increasing reliance on each other in the field of energy.

The appointment of four Indian-Americans to senior posts in the Department of Energy (DOE) is being seen as a positive. Energy expert Tarak Shah was appointed as the department’s chief of staff, making him the first Indian-American to serve in the position. The DOE said the new leaders will direct policy and enact Biden’s vision for “bold action on the climate crisis.”

Find more insight on MetalMiner’s LinkedIn.

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India iron ore barge

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A chorus of protests against Indian iron-ore exports — with associations of sponge iron and steel-forgings manufacturers making common cause with the India Steel Association (ISA) — has brought pressure on ministers to ban exports of iron ore.

Of those exports, 90% goes to China.

The groups are protesting in a bid to support domestic steel mills from rising raw material costs.

Ministers have refrained from taking action, arguing they would rather the market decide when it makes sense to export and when to import.

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Iron ore export ban?

However, a ban hardly seems necessary.

A massive 30% export tax kicks in this quarter on the lower Fe grade material between 58 to 62%. That is expected to decimate exports this quarter, the Business Standard reports.

In an effort to improve supply, the authorities have taken action against underused mining leases.

According to the New Indian Express, production declined during 2020. Comparing the two years January to September 2019 to the same period in 2020, iron ore production totaled 110.95 million metric tons in 2019. Meanwhile, output reached 76.01 million metric tons in 2020, marking a 31.5% drop.

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copper coils stacked

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China has had a fraction of the deaths and hospitalizations from the COVID-19 pandemic that Western societies have had. Furthermore, China had an economic bounceback that saw its GDP rise 2.3% last year.

China’s bounceback

The rebound has been impressive.

Construction of new high-speed train lines to smaller provincial cities and new motorways connecting remote cities left behind in previous plans in part drove the recovery.

The housing sector has also boomed. Overseas demand has boosted manufacturing, particularly PPE and electronic goods, even as other exporters have suffered by lockdowns in those markets.

In the longer term, further debt and a swing back to manufacturing from the earlier pivot to consumption will not do the economy or China any good.

For now, however, the economy is humming. Tailwinds from both stimulus and pent-up savings should keep the economy growing strongly in the first half of 2021.

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China and Australia flags

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Nobody yet is quite sure whether Australia and China’s spat over coking coal imports will eventually turn out to be a case of bad politics making good economics or bad economic sense making for good politics.

While politics between China and Australia is part of the reason for the former to have completely banned the import of coal from the latter, it has led to churn in the Asian the rest of the global coal markets.

With China not lifting the ban despite it being a new year (as some had anticipated), the volatility in the markets is likely to continue.

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China’s coking coal import ban

In the last quarter of 2020, a verbal ban by China to halt all Australian coke was followed up with a formal one.

Coking coal import prices then declined by 24% from early-October to mid-December. Why? Because market players expected a glut in the global coal market in the medium term.

This game of Chinese checkers is not relegated to only the two players, China and Australia.

Ripple effects

India, Japan, and a host of other Asian and Southeast Asian nations have started to feel the after-effects.

Of late, according to this report by CNBC, major Chinese cities have started suffering power cuts because of the Chinese authorities limiting power usage while citing a shortage of coal.

What’s more, Chinese coal prices have shot up due to the reported shortage.

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