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Most in metals see Biden canceling 232: survey

A majority of senior-level executives in steel and other metals industries expect United States President Joe Biden to rescind the Section 232 import curbs put in place by his predecessor, according to an annual survey by Headwall Partners.

Mar 23, 2021 by Dom Yanchunas

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Headwall's 2021 Steel & Metals Outlook Survey found that 54% of respondents believe that Biden will keep the Section 232 order in place for less than two years.

The fifth-annual survey polled mostly chairpersons, chief executive officers, chief financial officers and directors of strategic planning at mills, scrap, service centers and processing companies.

A similar proportion of the metals executives - 55%, the most in the survey's history - believe their company's revenue will increase by 9% or more in 2021 versus 2020.

A larger proportion (73%) expect Biden to implement a large infrastructure spending plan during the current presidential term. Yet, most of them think the new president will be bad for business.

According to this year's results, "64% of respondents view the financial and economic impact of Biden administration policies as negative for the
economy and 58% view those policies as being negative for their company," Headwall managing partner Peter J Scott wrote in the report.

Former President Donald Trump slapped imported steel and aluminium with a series of tariffs and quotas in his Section 232 action, which marked its three-year anniversary on March 8.

Nine percent of survey respondents said Biden would keep the order in place for less than a year, while 45% expect it to survive for one year and 18% foresee it still in effect in two years. Only 27% said Biden would not remove the Section 232 order.

That finding might surprise some people, who theorize that some of Biden's Democratic constituencies - labor unions, protectionists and blue- and swing-state politicians - can convince him to keep most of the tariff-and-quota framework in place, while perhaps easing some of the curbs for particular US allies.

Greenwich, Connecticut-based Headwall's survey found that large majorities expect higher tax and inflation rates over the next five years, as well as higher health-care costs.

Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic's ongoing impact on the workplace, "82% of respondents expect Covid travel restrictions to be lifted in 2021 and 58% of respondents expect to maintain flexibility for employees to 'work from home' post-Covid," according to the report.

us steel pricessection 232metal marketpresident joe biden

Senior Reporter

Dom Yanchunas

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