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Commodities Roundup: KORUS to be Revamped, E.U. Calls Section 232 ‘Bluff’

04/20/2018 By

For the buyers and category managers out there, especially those of you deep in the weeds of buying and managing commodities, here’s a quick rundown of news and thoughts from particular commodity markets.

From price movements to policy decisions, our MetalMiner editors scour the landscape for what matters. This week:

KORUS Revamp

The U.S. International Trade Commission will advise the U.S. Trade Representative on proposed modifications to the U.S. Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).

Those modifications include treatment of customs duties for motor vehicles. The two nations have been looking for ways to come to terms on trade of both finished goods and unfinished goods, since U.S. goods and services trade with Korea accounted for an estimated $144.6 billion in 2016, per the USTR.

Regarding trade of unfinished goods, the nations have also agreed on terms for a country exemption for the Republic of Korea from tariffs imposed on steel imports under Section 232, according to a USTR release.  

‘National Security’? E.U. Disagrees

Speaking of Section 232, the European Union is demanding compensation at the WTO for the U.S.’s Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, arguing that the tariffs were imposed to protect U.S. industry rather than the stated priority of national security.

ICYMI, MetalMiner Executive Editor Lisa Reisman dove into it the U.S.’s national security argument a little deeper. Read the the article to find out what role global capacity utilization rates play.

Aluminum All the Rage

After a steady downward trend, LME aluminum prices recovered, rising more than 13% in a week. “Brace yourselves,” MetalMiner Co-Founder Stuart Burns writes in an upcoming analysis to be published next week, “aluminium remains firmly in bull territory.”

These short-term movements stand in stark contrast to the backdrop of the market’s fundamentals, as evidenced by continued global overcapacity of the light metal. To that end, a number of aluminum associations around the world wrote a joint letter urging G20 leaders to hold a forum on global aluminum overcapacity at this year’s G20 Summit, scheduled to take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 in Buenos Aires.

But that may not stop the bullish trends. Irene Martinez Canorea’s mid-month metals analysis shows aluminum as April’s top performer so far. Prices for copper and nickel have also risen, while other base metals have fallen.

Check out her full analysis, and remember that MetalMiner publishes a Monthly Metal Buying Outlook — take a free trial to help your forward visibility for 10 industrial metal categories.