The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) has led the U.S. aluminum extrusion industry in achieving level competition by winning tariff protection that offsets unfair trade practices of extruders/importers of aluminum profiles produced in China. Our efforts have been of enormous value to domestic extruders and suppliers. Conservatively, an estimated 800 million pounds per year of extrusions are being produced in the U. S. that would have otherwise been lost to China.
Fair trade cases like ours (AEC’s) generally do not involve a
political process. The rules are relatively clear and the process is driven by
various statutes. However, we were not naïve enough to believe that politics would
not play some sort of role. After all, the support the Chinese industry
receives is VERY politically charged. And here in the US, the fight is all
about people, employment and jobs, clearly areas that our elected officials
hold dear to the heart (or should!). While the two sides of the isle see the
path to job creation somewhat differently, publically all of them claim this to
be their primary focus.
Therefore, as part of the trade case process, we have worked
hard to reinforce and expand our political reach. We knew at the outset that
there may be times when we would want or perhaps even need, to call on “our
friends” to lend a little elbow-nudging weight from time to time. As it turns
out, we have leveraged our political connections several times over the past three
One of our industry’s strengths is our diverse geographic
foot print. This plays in well to leveraging the political card with industry
representation in over 100 congressional districts.
The first time was during the original case, when we were
preparing the case to prove and demonstrate to the U.S. International Trade
Commission (ITC) that the domestic industry was being injured as a result of
the illegally imported Chinese extrusions. We tried to rally political support
through letters sent to many members of congress, both in the House and Senate and
on both sides of the isle. In addition, prior to the ITC hearing in 2011, a
number of us went to Washington to personally meet and discuss the case with
several dozen members of Congress and their staff. In the end, we got several
to testify at the ITC hearing to help lend some weight to our cause all leading
to the successful ruling two months later.
The next political intervention was at the beginning of 2012
when a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals at the end of December 2011 on a GPX
tire case was to eliminate the countervailing duties side of our orders. The
Court claimed that the Department of Commerce does not have the authority to
levy countervailing subsidy duties on “non-market” economies such as China –
baloney. Of all countries where these types
of duties are legitimate and needed, it is China. While this ruling was going
to affect all 24 active subsidy cases, we decided the extrusion industry simply
couldn’t afford to rely on anyone else to come to the rescue. Our only avenue
was to rally Congress to pass legislation that authorized Commerce to levy these
types of duties on non-market economies such as China (assuming that subsidies
were proven). Sounds simple? Think back to what was going on in Congress in
January 2012. What were the odds that anyone could rally Congress to take bi-partisan
action behind any common goal at that time??? On top of that, we required
legislation that would make the reversal retroactive to ensure it covered existing
cases such as ours. And to make it even more interesting, we had just over a
month to make this happen before the Court orders went into effect!
Our passion pushed these speed bumps aside. We flooded numerous
members of Congress with letters and a number of us visited Washington and
personally met key congressional members and their staff. At the end of the
process, legislation was created, several members “championed” the legislation first
through the Senate and then the House, and it passed through an expedited
process at the last moment. Whew!! After
this successful conclusion, I recall us reflecting back as an industry team and
realizing that the U.S. extrusion industry just played a key role in getting
Congress to actually agree on something and pass a potentially sensitive piece
of legislation in less than a month – go figure!! Maybe we should now tackle easier issues like
debt reduction, job creation, the U.S. debt ceiling, world hunger….who knows?!
Recently, we once again requested help from our members of Congress.
Over the past 6 months, the Department of Commerce has ruled on several scope
challenges, highlighting a potentially dangerous trend toward watering down our
orders. Scope challenges are when a company requests Commerce to rule on
whether the products they are buying from China fall within the scope of the
orders (and therefore subject to the duties or not). Commerce’s rulings were becoming inconsistent compared
to their earlier rulings and were starting to go against the spirit of the
original scope and orders. Ease of administering the orders was starting to outweigh
the spirit of the original scope. We
have worked too hard to get to this point to just let it slowly slip away from
In addition to meeting several times with officials at the
Department of Commerce in Washington over our concerns, a month ago we decided
to ask our members of Congress (particularly those on the House Ways and Means
and the Senate Finance Committees) to apply pressure to Commerce to simply encourage
them to apply the spirit of the original scope to these scope review challenges.
Again letters were sent and 6 of us travelled once again to Washington at the
end of July and had about 20 meetings with offices and staff of key
congressional members of the House and Senate, both Democrats and Republicans.
The reception we got was welcoming and sympathetic and we are now working
through a process to have several of these members of Congress champion letters
to send to Commerce requesting that they simply apply the scope as it was
written. We are not asking for “special” treatment. We just request that
Commerce frankly enforce the law that they wrote!
So the Aluminum Extruders Council remains focused on
ensuring that our hard-fought orders, orders that we strongly believe are
required to save the industry from illegal Chinese trade practices, continue to
be applied fairly to allow us to compete on a level playing field. We are
putting in a great deal of time and money to make this happen and are using all
the tools available to us – legal, legislative and even political. Fair Trade –It Matters!
In recent months there have been a growing number of reports about aluminum extrusions being imported into the United States from Vietnam. This recent spike comes at a time when the AEC is watching such reports and import data very carefully. Given the current policies of the Government of China to export their way out of their self-created overcapacity problems, the AEC is becoming more concerned about the prospect of transshipments from Chinese extruders through Vietnam.
AEC members are asked to contact Jeff Henderson with any reports gathered from the field regarding Vietnamese extrusions coming into the U.S. All reports will be treated in strict confidence. It must be determined whether or not there is a pattern in what is being imported. This pattern could appear in end use markets being targeted, names of the companies exporting product from Vietnam, types of extrusions and finishing, etc.
So, please let Jeff know what you are seeing in the field. He can be reached at 847.…
As reported last month, the U.S. aluminum extrusion industry is awaiting the International Trade
Commission’s decision on whether to hold a full or expedited review of our
five-year-long trade case against the People’s Republic of China (PRC).In the meantime, aluminum interests across
the free world are developing plans and actions to confront the impending
request from China to be granted market economy status (MES) by the World Trade
Organization (WTO).Within that debate
are issues particularly alarming to aluminum extruders across the globe.
As noted in our post from October 23, the Aluminum Extruders Council filed a Circumvention and Scope Clarification case against China Zhongwang (ZW). Mounting evidence from private investigators, testimony from former employees, data from online import and export databases, and anecdotal evidence from a variety of reporters and other sources made it quite clear that ZW has consistently and systematically been exporting aluminum extrusions that are simply welded together into what are essentially aluminum slabs. While they claim these so-called ‘deep-processed’ extrusions are aluminum pallets, there is no evidence that ZW or any of its U.S. based operations market such a product. It is simply incomprehensible that a company would export hundreds of millions of pounds of these extrusions into the U.S. without even marketing them.
The feedback we’ve received so far indicate that ZW intends to do with these extrusions what they have done in Mexico and Vietnam with similar schemes: sen…