U.S., Canada and Mexico look for a steel solution

10/18/2018 – Politico

action-artisan-burnt-1145434Megan Cassella 

TODAY’S LINEUP: The three NAFTA countries are looking for a way to lift the steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliatory duties, potentially through some sort of quota. Also, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ harsh comments in Brussels have pushed the U.S.-EU trade truce to a breaking point, and the yuan is tumbling after Treasury issued China a warning about the relative weakness of its currency. Here we go:

U.S., CANADA AND MEXICO LOOK FOR STEEL SOLUTION: The U.S., Canada and Mexico have been quietly talking about a possible way out of the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. The duties of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, haven’t been lifted despite the three countries reaching a new North American trade deal at the end of September. President Donald Trump imposed the tariffs under a law that allows trade restrictions on the basis of national security concerns.

“This is being discussed at very high levels between the three governments,” Philip Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, told Morning Trade. “There will be something in place to replace the 25 percent tariff.”

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Record number of families crossing U.S. border as Trump threatens new crackdown

10/17/2018 – The Washington Post

chain linked fence
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

The number of migrant parents entering the United States with children has surged to record levels in the three months since President Trump ended family separations at the border, dealing the administration a deepening crisis three weeks before the midterm elections.

Border Patrol agents arrested 16,658 family members in September, the highest one-month total on record and an 80 percent increase from July, according to unpublished Department of Homeland Security statistics obtained by The Washington Post.

Large groups of 100 or more Central American parents and children have been crossing the Rio Grande and the deserts of Arizona to turn themselves in, and after citing a fear of return, the families are typically assigned a court date and released from custody.

“We’re getting hammered daily,” said one Border Patrol agent in South Texas who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

Exclusive: Amazon zooms in on central Mexico for large new warehouse

10/17/2018 – Reuters 

blur-business-computer-230544Amazon.com Inc is scouting for land in central Mexico for a fourth distribution center in the country, sources said, aiming at a bigger slice of the burgeoning e-commerce market in Latin America’s second-largest economy.

The retail titan’s target is Queretaro state in the industrial center of Mexico, where it is looking to hire a developer to build a large hub, two real estate professionals familiar with Amazon’s property hunt said. They asked not to be named because Amazon has not announced its plans.

The expansion plan highlights Amazon’s intent to plant roots beyond Mexico’s bustling capital, banking on the nation’s potential to grow into an e-commerce engine of Latin America.

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Mexico’s Next Government Faces Bind in Pemex Ethane Deal

10/17/2018 – The New York Times

car-filling-station-fuel-pump-9796.jpgMexico’s incoming government will soon inherit a costly dilemma over an ethane supply contract between national oil company Pemex and a consortium led by a unit of Brazilian builder Odebrecht.

Under the contract’s terms, Pemex has had to supply ethane well below current market prices.

A hydrocarbon that comes from natural gas, ethane is used to make ethylene, which in turn is used to make the common plastic polyethylene at the Braskem-Idesa plant near the Gulf coast port of Coatzacoalcos.

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NAFTA 2.0’s Poison Pill For China Will Turn Out To Be A Dud

10/16/2018 – Forbes

44139464355_bc8fdde513_z.jpgHarry G. Broadman

The victory proclaimed by the Trump Administration for its renegotiation of a “modernized” North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a hollow one. Despite many months of wrangling with our closest neighbors to the North and South of us—our second and third largest trading partners—in fact, few substantive changes have been introduced to the 1994 pact.

That hasn’t stopped the White House from touting the deal. Why?  Because Mr. Trump and his trade team see NAFTA 2.0 as the model to tame nations outside our hemisphere—especially the use of it as the vehicle to proliferate a poison pill lying at the heart of the agreement the U.S. wants to be deployed to corner China and clip its wings from engaging in pernicious trade practices.

But there are two fundamental barriers to this scenario playing out.  First, Washington will find it tough going to sell this framework to countries with whom there isn’t a pre-existing agreement similar to NAFTA to be amended.  Second, as a practical matter, the U.S.-inserted Chinese poison pill will turn out to be of little therapeutic value, not only in failing to coerce other countries to exercise this provision but to actually induce changes in Beijing’s trade policy conduct.

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Mexico’s Lopez Obrador pushes Big Oil to hurry, but offers little

AMLO 2At his first meeting with foreign oil majors, Mexico’s leftist president-elect pushed the companies to prove themselves by quickly pumping oil from recent finds, sources say, but gave no sign of offering up new fields to reverse dwindling output. 

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador repeated a promise to respect more than 100 existing contracts awarded following a sweeping five-year-old energy overhaul as long as a review by his team finds no corruption. And he added: companies must show results, three executives who attended the meeting said.

For U.S. independent Talos Energy, which is developing a high-profile, big offshore discovery announced last year along with partners Premier Oil and Sierra Oil & Gas, Lopez Obrador’s message was clear: quickly bring new streams of production online.

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United States Seeking Mexican Steel Export Quotas: Negotiator

10/16/2018 – The New York Times

cargo-cargo-containers-containers-906982The United States is seeking to impose quotas on Mexican steel exports as part of a negotiation to remove metals tariffs, the chief trade negotiator of Mexico’s incoming government said on Monday, adding the issue needed to be resolved within weeks.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump imposed the tariffs on Canada and Mexico in June, citing national security reasons. Although the three countries agreed a renewed trade deal earlier this month, the measures remain in place.

Jesus Seade, who represented Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the wider trade talks, said the current Mexican government was leading the metals talks but that he had spoken to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on the matter.

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