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Why Trump's big infrastructure plan won't matter much for commodities

President Donald Trump gets into the drivers seat of a semi-truck as he welcomes truckers and CEOs to the White House in Washington, DC, March 23, 2017, to discuss healthcare.
Jim Watson | Reuters
President Donald Trump gets into the drivers seat of a semi-truck as he welcomes truckers and CEOs to the White House in Washington, DC, March 23, 2017, to discuss healthcare.

BOAO, China — President Donald Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure spending plans gave a shot of optimism to the commodity markets, but the upside will likely be limited for the global markets as the U.S. leader pushes his "America First" agenda, an industry executive said Friday.

"I think the value derived from that infrastructure spending is going to be within the borders of the United States," said founder and CEO of Xcoal, Ernie Thrasher, at the Boao Forum in China's Hainan province.

"The world is going to see very little effect from that (as) the commodities required for infrastructure, whether it's steel, cement or labor, are all somehow going to have a U.S. component attached to it with Mr. Trump's plan to put workers back onto the payrolls."

He added he didn't expect Trump's plan to ripple through the global market and boost commodity prices.

Metals prices rallied in the aftermath of Trump's election victory on hopes on his plan, although some have questioned the exuberance.

At a separate panel discussion in the same forum, former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and former ambassador to China Max Baucus raised questions about funding.

"I think it's going to be difficult for the United States to pass a meaningful infrastructure bill," he said. "There are two basic questions. One: Where is the money coming from, who is going to pay for it?...Second question is: Who decides how that infrastructure is going to be spent?"