TRUMP SPECIAL: US scrap industry cautiously optimistic about Trump

US scrap market participants are cautiously optimistic that Donald Trump will usher in a more favourable business environment, although some are holding their breath until campaign promises become reality.

The US president-elect has been pegged by many in the scrap metals arena as a champion for the industry due to his business savvy, hard-line trade policies and assurances that his administration will rein in regulations.

“He has given us hope, and hope drives business,” one industry source told Metal Bulletin sister publication AMM.

“People feel [the government] will not continue to regulate every little movement,” he said. “It is like we have been released from an island that was very small, and now there is room to move.” 

A second source agreed.

“My hope is that [president-elect] Trump will do what he has promised and lift the burden of over-regulation off of the backs of small business folks like myself,” he said.

Trump’s cabinet appointments have been encouraging to many in the industry, who view the selection of Wall Street mogul Carl Icahn as a special adviser on regulatory reform and the nomination of Robert Lighthizer as the US Trade Representative (USTR) as evidence that campaign promises will come to fruition.

“The overall snapshot of the incoming Trump administration so far looks like a collection of people that are extremely friendly to the steel business and, by extension, to the scrap steel business,” a third source said.

Another market pariticipant said Trump’s “tough talk on trade makes me feel bullish about American manufacturing prospects”.

“It is especially important that he makes countries play by the rules when it comes to dumping their steel and manipulating their currencies,” he said. 

And a recycler expressed similar confidence in Trump’s leadership.

“Trump will look to protect the USA from steel being dumped by China – something that [president Barack] Obama failed miserably at,” he told AMM.

Other scrap participants were more cautious, however, with some seeing Trump as a wild card who could send the US economy spiraling.

“Initially, we are seeing positive results,” said an industry source, “but when the dust settles, [it will all] depend on the international marketplace.”

But another was more optimistic.

“Trump certainly has his issues that are concerning, but as far as our industry is concerned, he could be a breath of fresh air,” he said. 

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