Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Once again, the President of the United States has inserted himself into the free trade of steel as he has announced the doubling of tariffs on Turkey. When I spoke to traders on Friday, they did not know how quickly the new tariffs would go into place. Trade attorney Lewis Leibowitz answered some of the questions (including when) in a separate article in tonight’s issue of SMU.

Turkish traders were “shocked” on Friday and told me that there could be as many as 10 cargoes on the water headed for the United States. Many of those tons were sold “duty paid” by the producing mill, which protects the trader to a degree. We were told the Turkish mills were having discussions on Friday, “trying to calculate the impact and mitigate the cost.”

With the approximately 30 percent devaluation of the Turkish lira against the dollar there is a chance that the Turkish mills may eat the new tariffs, at least on the vessels that are unable to reach U.S. soil prior to the tariffs going into effect. That is pure speculation on my part. I did not have any traders suggest that result to me.

A second trader I spoke with on Friday, when asked about the president’s tweet, told me, “Talk about throwing a hand grenade into your Friday….” He told me his company is going to operate under the assumption that the tariffs are effective “immediately.”

He also told me that this change in Turkey’s tariffs is “going to change trade flows” and would be “very disruptive” to the markets.

I spoke to a third trader who does not do business with Turkey and who has been advising SMU to expect “duty adjustments” from President Trump. “Told you all along that 232 eventually would yield duty adjustments to ‘bad’ players and that there was risk to importers who thought they were safe with their foreign suppliers. Well, today’s tweet proves that. Turkey had a HUGE backlog to the U.S. [It is] important to choose partners wisely in this trade battle because there is [going to be] a lot of collateral damage.”

So, steel buyers on Monday will be trying to understand how double duties on Turkey could impact their business, even if they are not doing business with Turkey. It seems that steel buyers will need to understand what is happening politically between the United States of President Trump and another country that may not be toeing the line he believes they should….

Because of all of the trade issues hitting the industry as we close in on our 8th SMU Steel Summit Conference in Atlanta on the 27th-29th of this month, I am considering starting the Monday program a little earlier so that I can give trade attorney Lewis Leibowitz and SMA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Trade Policy Jean Carroll Kemp more time to provide information and answer what I can only imagine will be hundreds of questions our attendees may have. Right now, Leibowitz and Kemp are scheduled to go off at 1:30 p.m. ET. I am trying to see if we can get the facility ready for a 1 p.m. ET start, and I will advise should we find that it is doable.

For those who are keeping a tally – we have passed through 850 registrations, and I expect we will end up somewhere in the 860-880 range when all the dust settles. If you would like to register, you can still do so on our website: or by contacting our office at 772-932-7538.

I also want to highly recommend that those of you interested in furthering your steel education consider our next steel training workshop, which will be held in Middletown, Ohio. We have an excellent program scheduled for Sept. 11-12 as we and AK Steel host our first Steel 201: Introduction to Advanced High Strength and Other New Steels workshop. You can learn more about the workshop online: or by contacting our office at 800-432-3475. We have special pricing for our readers, as well as those of you who have attended a past workshop or one of our SMU Steel Summit conferences. To obtain the special 50 percent discounted pricing when registering, key in the discount box “special201.” You are also welcome to contact our office at 772-932-7538.

As always, your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.

John Packard, President & CEO

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