US Steel players debate 232 fate

US sheet players are reacting with scepticism to the news that the US and the EU may soon reach an agreement to ditch the Trump-era 232 tariffs, Kallanish reports. 

News agency Reuters allegedly obtained a copy of a draft agreement that seems to say the tariffs will be lifted by December, but details are scant and the draft itself is not a public document. 

In a 9 June press gaggle with White House press secretary Jen Psaki and national security advisor Jake Sullivan en route to England, the officials declined to give a specific timeline for when a 232 decision might be made. 

“Well, you know, in a real spirit of constructive engagement, the US and the EU have agreed to a pause in the escalation of tariffs in response to the 232,” Sullivan says. “That has given time and space for a negotiation to hopefully produce an outcome that meaningfully addresses the problem of Chinese overcapacity.  And we regard that as a serious challenge that affects both Europe and the United States and must be dealt with effectively.”

Sullivan added that the tariffs are not currently being rolled back and “…I think that’s going to take some time to work out, which is why that stand-down on the tariffs was so important… because it gives us the time and space.”

A Midwest sheet buyer says doing away with the tariffs – traditionally, a Democratic trade tool – would likely cause trouble for the Biden administration. 

“If they take all tariffs off from all countries it will make a huge impact, but I don’t think that will happen,” he says. “The United Steelworkers would be at arms with the Dems.”

A West Coast buyer, however, says some of the administration’s infrastructure plans might not be workable with domestic prices so high. 

“I saw something about this over a month ago – I was under the impression it is still a 2022 thing,” he says. “I would think if the federal government is going to spend on infrastructure they might want to ease some trade restrictions. Otherwise, we might get one lane done with the trillion dollars allotted for the project.”

A second Midwest buyer was more succinct – if the EU benefits from dropped 232 tariffs, what will the trade-off be for the US?

“What do we get?” he says.

Dan Hilliard USA