ISRI’s National Convention in Los Angeles is now only a couple of weeks away, and given all the changes and challenges the industry is facing, I find myself looking forward to this year’s meeting as much as any in recent years.
First and foremost, trade is sure to be a big topic of discussion at this year’s meeting. One year has now passed since the President authorized tariffs on imports of Steel and Aluminum products into the United States, under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. While the positive impact of the tariffs on capacity utilization and profitability of the US steel industry has been well publicized, the overall impact on domestic and export ferrous scrap demand has also been positive.
The year-to-date average domestic steel mill capacity utilization rate is 81.4%, up 6.7% when compared to the same period in 2018. Not only are domestic mills buying more scrap than a year ago, but also export demand has risen. A recently published US Census Bureau report stated that exports of ferrous scrap increased 15.7% during 2018, compared to 2017. The increase was particularly interesting given that demand from Turkey, the largest importer of US origin scrap, dropped by 5.6%, and shows the strength and adaptability of the global ferrous scrap markets. The reduction in Turkish demand was more than off-set by an increase in export demand from, among others, Asian countries including Vietnam, South Korea, India, and Taiwan.
For those interested in learning more about what key challenges and opportunities the ferrous markets are facing as we progress further in 2019, the Ferrous Spotlight at this year’s Convention is a must-see event, which will feature Tamra Lundgren, President and CEO of Schnitzer Steel Industries.
Another trade matter, that will impact most Convention attendees, is the on-going US-China Trade negotiation that is likely to continue well into 2019. For those wanting to know more about how the ever-evolving US-China trade relationship will affect their business, I suggest attending With or Without China: What is the Future of International Scrap Trade? This session will provide valuable information on how US-China trade negotiations are progressing, as well as likely outcomes and impacts. The session will be moderated by Andy Wahl (President of TAV Holdings) and Adina Adler (ISRI’s Senior Director of International Relations), and feature guest speaker Jeff Weiss (International Trade Expert).
Trade aside, ISRI’s Transportation Committee has been busy working to address the concerns that many ISRI members have voiced regarding changes within the railroad industry. A lot progress has been made since the last Ferrous Division meeting in Austin, including the hiring resources to assist ISRI’s efforts and the completion of initial meetings with government officials in D.C. All rail shippers are encouraged to attend the FE Division Meeting in Los Angeles for a full update on transportation and other issues important to ferrous scrap processors.
With so many reasons to attend this meeting, I hope that you have already registered and booked all your travel arrangements.
I’ll look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles for what is certain to be another great ISRI Convention.
Until then, safe travels…
Ferrous Division Chair