Tuesday, August 30, 2016

All Aboard! Here we Go!

Earlier this summer I suggested we were sitting in the eye of a storm.  With many decisions regarding our trade case on the horizon, we were busily preparing for the industry changing issues we were hurtling to confront.  Now, here we are.

Over the next few months, the AEC will be involved in topics ranging from circumvention of our orders by substituting 6xxx series alloy extrusions with a so-called 5xxx series alloy, to China’s attempt to be recognized as a market economy thus attaining full status at the World Trade Organization.  The good news is that we are ready, and confidence is high.

Many of you have responded to our trade alerts seeking field intelligence about 5xxx series alloy shipments and new shipments coming in from Vietnam.  Both go to the heart of our claims to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.  Your reports are fueling the very investigations that will bring these matters to a positive conclusion for us.  Please keep us informed of any new information you may have on these issues.  We can never have enough evidence!
Our ‘base case’ is in excellent shape.  Earlier this summer, the DOC announced its preliminary results of this year’s administrative review.  The good news is that the rates held at 80% for dumping and 26% for countervailing duties.  This combined rate of 106% is the highest duty we’ve seen since the original orders were issued.  The DOC will announce its final results this December.  We expect them to be very close to what they announced in their preliminary decision.  This year, the administrative review process takes a bit of a back seat to the real work in front of us:  our 5-year Sunset Review.
The Sunset Review is officially underway.  Unfortunately, the International Trade Commission did not decide to conduct an expedited review like the DOC did.  As a result, we will be issuing new workbooks out to members in the fall with data requested by the ITC.  We hope that it is not too much more onerous than what we submitted earlier this year, but we will have to wait and see.  This review appears to be largely focused on ‘like product’ arguments.  Basically, this is where a manufacturer petitions the ITC and asks that their product be excluded from our orders because it is a separate and unique product from extrusions.  We had two such challenges in our original filing.  One was about finished heat sinks and the other was about shower and bath enclosure extrusions.  In that hearing, the heat sink folks won their case, but the shower door manufacturers didn’t.  We will have to wait and see who comes forward this time.  The good news is that there does not appear to be any challenge to our base case.  So, we continue to believe our orders will be extended for another five years.  The data is clear.  Without these orders, our industry will suffer irrecoverable damages from an onslaught of Chinese extrusions.

Beyond these industry specific issues, which we will continue to fight, we have an eye on the macro issues impacting our industry.  Much was said during our spring meeting by extruders about the shrinking domestic aluminum primary market.  Concern was loudly expressed that we needed to do whatever we could to help those that are fighting to save the domestic industry.  So, we went to work this spring and summer to align ourselves with those that are pushing for the same goal.  We have done that by joining forces with the Manufacturers for Trade Enforcement, the China Trade Task Force, and the International Fair Trade Alliance.  Over the next few months, the World Trade Organization and governments all over the world will have to make a decision about whether or not to grant China market economy status.  There are two lines converging:  the free world’s push to force China to stop its policies that lead to over-production and China’s demand to be recognized as a market economy.  No two points could be more contradictory.  It seems impossible to us that China can claim it is market based when it continues to flood the world with products for which there is no market.  Therefore, it is important to the AEC that we help in any way we can to broadcast that point.

Because of the many issues we have Alan Price of Wiley Rein as our keynote speaker.  Alan is deeply involved in the WTO case and knows our industry very well.  I know you will find his presentation incredibly informative.  So, don’t forget to register, and when you do, take on that extra day.  On Thursday the 29th we will have our Hill Day and take our message directly to those that will write the laws we need.

See you in D.C.!

Jeff

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