The Chemical Company U.S. China Tariffs Update

Chinese Tariff Update & Chemical Industry Implications

Chinese Tariffs & The Impact on the Chemical Industry. Content updated as of 10/8/2018.

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The chemical industry has been evaluating, and bracing for the potential impacts of President Trump’s announced tariffs on Chinese imports for a few months now. As new developments occur, categories of products are excluded from tariff lists or granted lighter tariffs, businesses must plan the best they can to absorb or pass through the additional costs associated with increasing cost of goods sold.

The Chemical Company’s regulatory department is closely monitoring tariff announcements, and will update this web page as announcements, developments and deadlines are met.


What’s happening?

President Trump has announced tariffs following the Section 301 Investigation performed by the USTR with the rationale of protecting U.S. business interests in response to business practices of the Chinese state and some of its’ companies. As of this article, there are three installments to this tariff list.


List 1: 25% Tariff on 818 items from China

Tariff “List 1” includes virtually no impact on the chemical industry. There is one section including isotopes and another two lines on rubber articles, but the bulk of this list includes electrical and mechanical machinery.  This list is considered final and its’ tariffs are fully in effect as of July 6, 2018.

The product exclusion request deadline for List 1 products is October 9, 2018.

Click here for the full Federal Register Submission, and see Annex A.


List 2: 25% Tariff on 279 items from China

Tariff “List 2” was finalized on August 23, 2018 and includes more products surrounding the chemical industry. Items included on this list are six lines of lubricating oils, two lines of lubricating oil additives, as well as a variety of “plastics, including those mixed with plasticizers”. In addition, there is more mechanical equipment listed in this tariff list.

Click here for the full Federal Register submission, and see Annex C.


List 3: 10/25% Tariff on 5,745 Items from China

“List 3” is the heavy hitter on the chemical industry, and has taken effect as of September 24th, 2018. Sections 28, 29 and 38 have the heaviest impact on the chemical industry. One of the most notable products included in this list is Dicyandiamide, a product only produced in volume in China, an important import for agricultural applications.

Unlike the first trade actions, this action is split into two time periods. The tariffs will take effect on September 24, 2018, and be set at a level of 10 percent until the end of the year. On January 1, the tariffs will rise to 25 percent.

Twenty-one of The Chemical Company’s core products are included on this list. For a detailed list and up-to-the-minute pricing, please contact your TCC sales representative, or contact us here for general product or quote information. Hearings regarding this list took place August 20th through August 26th. After these rebuttal comments, the final list of List 3 tariffs will be announced and projected to go into effect.

Click here to see the full Federal Register submission with the full list of tariff line items both fully and partially covered by the action.


The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill: Passed (verbally) by the U.S. Senate on July 26, 2018

The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill is slated to reduce, or wipe out tariffs on products that may help reduce costs to U.S. businesses and consumers, with three key requirements to be considered:

The bill states: “A decision of the commission on whether or not to include an item in the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill starts with determining:

1. The duty suspension or reduction can likely be administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection;
2. The estimated loss in revenue to the United States from the duty suspension or reduction does not exceed $500,000 in a calendar year during which the duty suspension or reduction would be in effect; and
3. The duty suspension or reduction is available to any person importing the article that is the subject of the duty suspension or reduction.

The congressional committees may exclude from a miscellaneous tariff bill any petition for a duty suspension or reduction for reasons including that the petition is the subject of an objection from a Member of Congress; or it is for an article for which there is domestic production.”

The bill was agreed upon by the Senate on 9/4, and put on President Trump’s desk on 9/6. The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill grants exclusions to two of the 21 products that TCC manages directly.

The Chemical Company will continue to monitor the tariff updates and impacts across the chemical industry. For more information or direct product information, send us an email by clicking here, and send to the attention of Matthew Francoeur / EH&S Department.

trucks driving - The Chemical Company | Chemical Distributor

The “New Norm” of Logistics, Downstream Effects on the Chemical Industry

A variety of factors drives the specialty chemical market and chemical industry as a whole. Material availability, price fluctuations, geopolitical issues on a local and global scale and more, all contribute to cost changes, either for or against profitability. However, all potential hiccups to a production timeline are at the mercy of the transportation & logistics industry, one that accounts for 10 cents of every dollar in the U.S. economy (Donald Broughton / MSN).

The first half of 2018 saw unprecedented changes across the logistics industry. The average age of truck drivers continues to sit around the age of retirement, approximately 65 years old, an age that continues to skew older as ELD mandates are fully enacted, and today’s millennials choose not to enter the logistics marketplace. This tightness is clearly reflected in the rising cost of dry van trucking, raising the spot price from $1.41 in 2014 to $1.85 per mile in 2018 (MSN).

As of April 1, 2018, ELD Mandates proposed and enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) officially went into effect, meaning drivers found out of compliance may be ticketed, and placed out of service until their trucks comply. Acutely opposed to significant industry changes, many older drivers have chosen to retire or find other work rather than submit to a new way of working, an issue that continues to push drivers out of the market faster than they are coming in.

Unforeseen and unprecedented shortages of OTR (over-the-road) freight options has pushed capacity onto railroad transportation, a medium that saw 6.5% growth in March 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. While railroad may be a savior for particular products or transportation lanes, it is a slower mode of transport, and often requires much further advanced planning and processing, which some shippers aren’t able to provide.

Nearly all goods manufactured, produced and/or sold in the United States are aboard a truck or rail car at some point in their lifespans, whether as early-on raw materials or as last steps before reaching end consumers. In many situations, and especially in the specialty chemical market, goods are moved multiple times as they go from raw materials to usable pieces or portions of final, consumer-ready products.

No industry or product category is exempt from these assumptions, whether it is produce, children’s toys, technology, agricultural or farming product or quite literally, anything else one might see in a shopping mall, industry wholesaler, or grocery store.

A comment from Donald Broughton of Broughton Capital published in a recent report on MSN stated, “Logistics and transportation account for almost 10 cents of every dollar in the U.S. economy. If there is a 10 percent increase in transportation costs, that gives you a 1 percent increase in inflation for the broader economy. That’s real.”

The logistics market is accustomed to tightening and easing market conditions like weather, seasons, seasonal product demand, and available truckers fluctuate. The current major issues in today’s freight market, however, don’t appear to be tightening market conditions. The market seems to be entering the new norm of the logistics industry for what will likely be years to come.



US and China trade relations - The Chemical Company | Chemical Distributor

U.S. and China Relations Improve, Tariffs on Hold

Trade relations between the US and China improved this weekend.

The Trump administration made meaningful actions to put the looming trade war with China on hold after Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said they would refrain from implementing significant tariffs on various Chinese goods.

In a joint statement on May 19, China agreed to purchase increased amounts of U.S. goods, including agriculture, energy, and manufactured goods. However, China has not formally released a quantitative figure committing to the amount they will purchase, and when.

The announcement comes after President Trump announced tariffs of $150 billion on Chinese goods, including an initial $50 billion set to take effect in the coming weeks. China retaliated with tariffs of an equal scale, all of which has been in stalemate and a state of uncertainty over the past month.

The U.S. – China trade deficit reached $337 billion last year, by far the largest of any country.

These announcements come through a mix of the joint statement, statements by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, and President Trump’s personal Twitter account.

President Trump is scheduled to meet with North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un in Singapore in early June, and the trade talks with China may be a precursor to assistance soliciting North Korea to give up their nuclear arsenal.

It is unforeseen and unpredictable what may happen with the U.S. and China trade relationship, and tariffs may likely not be entirely off the table. However, the recent news and announcements appear to be a sign toward deescalating potential trade war concerns and economic stability between nations.



The Chemical Company Crude Oil

Crude Oil Inventories & Price in 2018: High Prices, Immediate Impacts

In early January 2018, oil prices hit their highest levels in more than three years. “U.S. crude oil inventories are at their lowest level since August 2015. OPEC is getting closer to its target of reducing OECD industrial stocks to the five-year average,” says PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga.

The Chemical Company Crude Oil

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that crude inventories fell by almost 5 million barrels to 419.5 million barrels in the week of January 5, 2018. This drop is likely due to the extreme cold weather that stopped some onshore output in North America, which was expected to be short-lived. Production cuts led by OPEC and Russia that started in January 2017, and are set to continue throughout 2018, have underpinned charges. There is still downward pressure in the physical market, where the second and third largest OPEC producers have cut their prices to remain competitive.

The oil price decline that began mid-2014, when the price of oil was consistently over $110/bbl, has changed the fundamental economics of the global chemicals industry, and has brought about widespread uncertainty. Additional supply from North American shale oil and continued high production levels from OPEC are likely to make a slow but steady recovery.

Nonetheless, prices will need to recover over time to permit investment in production and exploration. Over the past ten years, oil prices have gone through at least two complete cycles, and more significant swings are likely to happen. During this time of ever-changing prices, setting short and mid-term plans will continue to be necessary.

Oil is one of the key ingredients in the manufacture of various chemicals and related products. Consequently, many chemical firms benefit from lower crude oil prices. However, companies using natural gas as opposed to oil for their feedstock do not enjoy those benefits, resulting in the cost of natural gas affecting chemical firms more than the price of oil in those cases.

Additionally, a substantial decline in crude oil prices would impact the market in other ways. It makes the economics of petroleum substitutes a great deal less attractive, including bio-based and battery chemicals. This issue is causing companies, from global powerhouses to niche firms, to reevaluate their strategies.




DINP - The Chemical Company | Chemical Distributor

DINP Reproductive Toxicity Classification Rejected by ECHA

The European Chemicals Agency’s Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) has concluded that no classification is required for reproductive toxicity for DINP after a lengthy research and analysis period(1,2). The ECHA concluded that there is no required classification regarding issues surrounding fertility and/or development.

The debate surrounding DINP classification was originally submitted by Denmark in 2015(1), leading to a large-scale scientific and industry debate on the proposal and potential hazards of the material.

The 6-page ECHA news release annex, 369-page review report and article from the European Plasticizers trade association are available here and linked below.


dinp wide 1 - The Chemical Company