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The U.S. Department of Commerce. qingwa/Adobe Stock

The U.S. Department of Commerce took another step forward in its investigation of steel flanges from China and India, announcing affirmative preliminary determinations in its countervailing duty (CVD) investigation on Wednesday evening.

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In its release covering the announcement, the department once again touted its uptick in trade cases considered since President Trump took office.

“With a 58 percent increase in trade cases initiated since President Trump took office, this Administration has made it a clear priority to defend domestic businesses from unfair trade practices,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in the release. “Today’s preliminary decision allows U.S. producers to receive relief from the market-distorting effects of potential government subsidies while we continue our investigation.”

The department calculated countervailable subsidies of 174.73%, and from 5.00% to 239.61%, for China and India, respectively. A countervailable subsidy is “financial assistance from a foreign government that benefits the production of goods from foreign companies and is limited to specific enterprises or industries, or is contingent either upon export performance or upon the use of domestic goods over imported goods,” the department’s fact sheet on the case explains.

Imports of steel flanges in 2017 were estimated to be valued at a total of $48.4 million from the two countries, according to the release.

The domestic petitioners in the case are the Coalition of American Flange Producers and its individual members: Core Pipe Products, Inc. (of Carol Stream, Illinois) and Maass Flange Corporation (of Houston, Texas). The petitions were filed Aug. 16, 2017, and the Department of Commerce initiated its investigation Sept. 5. The U.S. International Trade Commission then delivered its preliminary determinations Sept. 30.

The Chinese respondents in the case were: Both Well (Jiangyan) Steel Fittings Co., Ltd., Hydro Fluid Controls Ltd., Jiangyin Shengda Brite Line Kasugai Flange Co., Ltd., and Qingdao I-Flow Co., Ltd.

According to the department, it calculated the countervailable subsidy rate based on “adverse facts available” due to the companies’ “failure to fully cooperate” in the investigation.

Commerce calculated a rate for the Indian respondents under similar circumstances.

“In the India investigation, Commerce has calculated a preliminary subsidy rate of 239.61 percent for mandatory respondent Bebitz Flanges Works, based on adverse facts available due to the company’s failure to fully cooperate in the investigation., and a preliminary subsidy rate of 5.00 percent for mandatory respondent Echjay Forgings Private Limited,” the department’s fact sheet states. “Commerce preliminarily determined a rate of 5.00 percent for all other Indian producers and exporters.”

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The Department of Commerce is scheduled to make a final CVD determination in the case against China on April 3, and May 29 for India.

stockquest/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, our own Lisa Reisman appeared on NPR’s “Marketplace” yesterday, President Trump said Wednesday that terminating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would lead to the best renegotiated deal and Alcoa reported its 2017 4Q and full-year earnings.

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Aluminum and China on NPR

Our very own Lisa Reisman, founder and executive editor of MetalMiner, made an appearance on NPR’s “Marketplace” yesterday morning to talk about the aluminum market.

To check out the segment, visit the Marketplace website (the segment starts at 2:28).

Trump Again Hints at Termination of NAFTA

As negotiating teams from the U.S., Canada and Mexico have met over several rounds of talks to revamp the 24-year-old trilateral trade deal, President Trump once again hinted at termination of the deal.

According to Reuters, Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. could get a better deal via termination.

“We’re renegotiating NAFTA now,” Trump told Reuters. “We’ll see what happens. I may terminate NAFTA.

“A lot of people are going to be unhappy if I terminate NAFTA. A lot of people don’t realize how good it would be to terminate NAFTA because the way you’re going to make the best deal is to terminate NAFTA. But people would like to see me not do that.”

Alcoa Reports 4Q, Full-Year 2017 Earnings

Alcoa released its earnings report for the final quarter of 2017, reporting a net loss of $196 million, or $1.06 per share.

For 2017 as a whole, Alcoa reported full-year 2017 net income of $217 million, or $1.16 per share and adjusted net income of $563 million, or $3.01 per share.

“Solid market fundamentals allowed us to deliver our strongest adjusted EBITDA quarter since our launch as an independent, publicly-traded company,” said Roy Harvey, president and CEO, in a release covering the earnings announcement. “With a series of operating and asset decisions, we also purposefully delivered against our strategic priorities. Our first full year has been truly remarkable.

“By continuously focusing on our strategic priorities, and supported by favorable markets, we’ve been able to accelerate our plan to strengthen Alcoa’s foundation for an even brighter tomorrow. As we enter 2018, we will continue to execute on our objectives and look forward to delivering more in the new year.”

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Alcoa became an independent, publicly traded company Nov. 1, 2016.