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US, Mexico trade deal positive for steelmakers: Nucor CEO

Atlanta — Progressing trade talks between the US and Mexico are positive for US steelmakers, Nucor CEO John Ferriola told S&P Global Platts Wednesday.

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"At the end of the day, we hope it gets worked out," Ferriola told Platts on the sidelines of Steel Market Update's annual conference, held Wednesday in Atlanta.

"We think NAFTA has been good for the steel industry and we think NAFTA has been good for the US and Mexico. If you look at the steel relationship, particularly with Mexico, we've had a slight trade surplus with Mexico in steel."

US President Donald Trump announced Monday the US and Mexico have reached a preliminary bilateral agreement regarding trade, which he referred to as the "United States Mexico Trade Agreement." Trade discussions between the US and Canada are ongoing.

Ferriola said he agreed with the administration that NAFTA needs to be updated, noting that rules of origin stipulations in the current agreement are out of date. The administration said Monday that new rules of origin and origin procedures will be established under the preliminary agreement reached with Mexico.

Nucor is in the process of expanding its presence in Mexico with the construction of a new galvanizing plant in central Mexico as part of a 50-50 joint venture with Japan's JFE. While Ferriola said he sees the agreement announced this week as a positive, it will not have a direct effect on the joint venture as the steel produced there will supply automotive demand in Mexico's domestic market.

Construction of the mill remains on track for a mid-2019 startup.

--Justine Coyne, justine.coyne@spglobal.com

--Edited by Pankti Mehta, pankti.mehta1@spglobal.com