Tuesday, November 11, 2014

5xxx Scope Case Heads to the Next Round

For months the aluminum extrusion industry has been awaiting a decision from the Department of Commerce (DOC) on the scope requests concerning 5000-series products.  In October, the DOC pushed the decision date out to November 7, 2014.  On November 7th the DOC announced its decision to launch a formal scope proceeding on the subject.  While the Department did not take the opportunity to affirmatively state that 5xxx products that have been heat treated were covered by the scope, the fact that they initiated a formal proceeding indicates that they feel it is a close call and worth further examination.  All parties will have until November 28, 2014 to submit their final comments.  The deadline for rebuttal comments is December 8, 2014.

The Aluminum Extruders Council’s Fair Trade Lobbying team has spent many hours in person, and on the phone, looking for support from elected officials.  That effort has translated into numerous calls and letters to DOC Assistant Secretary for Enforcement & Compliance, Paul Piquado, on our behalf.  Clearly, that effort has paid off.  This scope request--given the wording of the original orders and the fact some Chinese extruders are shipping a heat-treated product with a non-heat treat alloy designation--a closer look is understandable.  What would have been a disaster for us is if the DOC believed the 5xxx products excluded in our orders was the same product being brought into the U.S.  We know that is not the case.

According to the Aluminum Association (AA), 5xxx alloyed aluminum is NOT heat treated, whereas the material coming into the U.S. from China is heat treated.  In fact, the AA will be interested to learn that some products are inappropriately labelled using this alloy and temper designation.  End users of extrusions should also be concerned.  Consider liability issues that could arise if there is a failure in the field and the metal used is shown to have an alloy and temper designation never even recognized by the AA.

So, the evidence we’ve been able to present to the DOC, the testimony of AEC members, and the support we’ve received from key elected officials has caused the DOC to stop and take a longer look. That is good for the domestic industry.  However, we still have work to do.

In the coming weeks we will continue to update and recruit elected officials helpful to our effort, add additional arguments that have developed in recent weeks, and stay very close to the DOC.  Stay tuned for further updates and requests for information.  With dedicated efforts from AEC membership, I am convinced we will prevail.

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