Much has happened since I wrote you on November 8th last year: The old year has passed and we are now getting stuck in to 2017; Mariah Carey’s concert in Times Square on New Year’s Eve was a shambles; and we here in New York are yet to experience any proper winter weather. Having said that, though, looking out of the window now, it’s actually snowing.
Oh, and yes, since I last wrote we now have our 45th president (elect) – Donald Trump. And what a surprise that was. To give you an idea of the trauma this caused in some quarters, at the hideously expensive private high school up the block from us, the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth amongst the pupils was so great on November 9th that the school had to be closed for the day!
One of my oldest friends back in England sent me a sweet e-mail with the subject line “Commiserations”. Whilst the temptation on her part to indulge in a degree schadenfreude must have been quite strong, instead she put things in terms, from her side, of Brexit. I was therefore able to draw some comfort from her words.
But nobody really knows what’s going to happen after the inauguration on 20th January. This probably includes Mr Trump himself. There’s obviously lots of stuff he’d love (and has promised) to do. But whether he’ll actually be able to do it is another matter altogether.
So, what does his election (and Republican control of both houses) mean for MMTA members? This, too, is uncertain. Mr Trump has sounded off about both TPP and TTIP. My guess is that TTIP won’t happen and that TPP could still happen, but without the U.S. – for what that’ll be worth.
Many have long argued that the granting of permits for mining and exploration here in the U.S. is a true mess. I think we may, now, see some moves on this front. Indeed, there may, quite soon, be some action in the House on the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act. Not least as one of the co-sponsors of the act is now Mr Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Congresswoman Ms Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
On the alternative energy front, I don’t have any clarity on what might happen. Whilst Mr Trump has, very publically, espoused a love for coal, coal miners, and the coal industry in the U.S., I cannot remember his having actually been ‘anti’ alternative energy. So, once again, we’ll just have to wait and see.
As many of you will have seen, one of the ways currently being mooted within the administration-to-be to help make America great again is the imposition of a tariff on all imported goods. At one point in his campaign, Mr Trump pitched such a tax at 45%. The current thinking is a little lower – 5%.
If the concept is developed further, the interesting thing will be what is defined as a “good”. Will imported raw materials be included? Since, if I remember correctly, a great many of the metals mined, refined, worked, sold and traded by our members have to be imported by this country, this tax will certainly be something to keep an eye on.
As for any changes Mr Trump and his team may make at places like the EPA and how these may affect members, I’m afraid I know nothing. Once again, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Whilst I must apologize for not being able to provide you with any real concrete direction on what’s going to start happening in a couple of weeks, I think I may not be alone in this respect. Rest assured, though, that, in coming missives, I shall try to highlight anything that might help provide some insight as to where we here are headed and how this may affect MMTA members.
In the meantime, though, I should like to wish all members everywhere a very happy, if somewhat belated, New Year and the best 2017 possible.
As always, I remain, with best wishes from New York
Tom Butcher, January 8th, 2017
©2017 Tom Butcher