US elections: Biden might be better for fair trade

With the upcoming US presidential elections, Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s administration might provide a better chance for fair trade, panelists at the virtual 83rd International Rebar Producers & Exporters Association (Irepas) conference said this week.

F. D. Baysal, president and CEO of Seba International, highlighted the uncertainty, and said that with the death Sept. 18 of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg everything is up in the air. President Donald Trump’s reelection will not bring about many changes, though a Biden administration might be more sympathetic towards fair trade, he said. Nonetheless, the Section 232 tariffs will be hard to dismiss for at least the first two to three years of the new administration, he added.

Similarly, regarding the ongoing US-China trade war, Baysal expects the situation to stay consistent.

“Most countries will continue to operate as they are doing at the moment. China might sign more bilateral trade agreements that can help China and those regions,” he said.

Murat Cebecioglu, chairman of Irepas, also said the situation will not change if Trump is reelected, but if Biden wins there might be an opportunity for change in the ongoing trade war.

“We will have to see,” said Cebecioglu, who is also the export manager of major Turkish long steel producer Icdas. Cebecioglu highlighted that regional markets are currently performing well with prices getting stronger despite uncertainties about the coronavirus pandemic and political unrest in some regions.

“We have been dealing with Hong Kong and Singapore producers,” he said. “Demand is there and we still have opportunities to get more deals for 2020,” he added, referring to alternative markets in light of ongoing challenges.

Wilhelm Alff, director of Duferco Deutschland GmbH, said that every country will need to find its own way to manage the US-China trade war while weighing the pros and cons for their own economic well-being. In light of the upcoming US elections, he doesn’t expect the current trade situation to be resolved soon.

— Rabia Arif