February ’23 at-a-glance … supply chain

Section 301 refund case with judges

On Feb. 8, the three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) heard oral arguments to discuss whether the U.S. Trade Representative had provided enough of a reasoned explanation for its decision to impose the Section 301 tariffs. The plaintiffs continued to argue that that USTR did not provide a sufficient explanation, while the government argued that it did. A CIT decision is the next step in the appeal.

Hot-rolled steel prices down by 50+ percent year-over-year

The Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU), of which NAFEM is a founding member, compiled the following table on hot-rolled steel prices and U.S. domestic steel capacity utilization.

DateU.S. H-R PricePrice difference – ChinaPrice difference – EUCapacity utilization rate
Jan. 24, 2022$1,653$1007$61381.9%
Jan. 24, 2023$812$288$5472.50

CAMMU also reported that the U.S. Department of Commerce has granted 206,629 exclusions to the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs of 302,833 requests. More than 11,000 requests are pending.

Washington state looks to attract “clean manufacturing,” set net-zero by 2050 goal

Washington Senate Bill 5269, introduced Jan. 11, aims to make Washington state a leader in “clean manufacturing” by developing a proactive state industrial strategy. It calls for an independent assessment of opportunities for new and emerging industries, strengthening the existing manufacturing base and transitioning to net-zero emissions by 2050. The proposed bill also includes provisions to ensure the state’s growing manufacturing base doesn’t contribute to pollution in overburdened communities.

Firms that rely on ocean shipments could be buoyed by lower shipping rates

According to the Wall Street Journal, many firms are hoping to cut shipping costs when they negotiate new, long-term contracts with oceans carriers in late February. Lower rates are being driven by retailers that reduced orders to clear current inventories. “As a result, cargo volumes are weak and ocean carriers are scrambling to fill space on ships,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “Through they’re still facing elevated labor, energy and raw material costs, retailers say the lower ocean shipping rates they expect from the upcoming talks will help steady prices.”