Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On the Eve of the Sunset Review

Jeff Henderson
This month representative members of the Aluminum Extruders Council will join me in Washington D.C. to testify before the International Trade Commission (ITC) seeking another five years of trade protection from our orders.  This hearing will be followed by a decision from the ITC to either end or extend our orders.  We are confident in our success. Please note that once again no one representing the Chinese extrusion industry will be present to rebut our testimony.  So, it seems reasonable to expect our petition to be extended.

There will be companies testifying that their particular product should be excluded from the orders because it is not a ‘like product’ to extrusions.  We saw this in 2011 when representatives from the shower and bath industry and from a heat sink manufacturer made their case that they should be excluded because what they bought from extruders was so dissimilar to a ‘real extrusion’.  In that round the shower and bath folks lost, but the heart sink manufacturer walked away with somewhat of a win.  This time we expect to hear from companies making appliance handles, heat exchangers, and possibly some others.  For the most part, none of these items are new to the ITC or DOC.  The question has been argued on the scope request side with the Department of Commerce, and now these companies are taking their case to the ITC.  I don’t believe they will be successful.

Once the Sunset Review is complete, and the orders extended, there could be a period of relative calm. Think of it.  For the last 18 months to 3 years we have been very focused on circumvention and transshipment schemes.  While there will always be battles like these to wage, our most direct challenge has been confronted, and we won!  If that indeed does signal some level of victory for our side, then we may see things settle down this year.

However, headquarters is getting a number of calls about Vietnamese imports.  Many of those reports come with details that suggest these extrusions could actually be coming from China and then shipped to the U.S.  That is a serious offense and criminal charge if proven true.  In cases where hard evidence is gathered, we are in a strong position to take those reports to Customs.  This has been a tactic for some time now.  Many of us have been disappointed in the lack of urgency from our governing bodies.  We are hopeful that the new administration will take a stronger role in enforcement areas like these.

Elsewhere, I want you to be aware that we are awaiting the final determination from Department of Commerce (DOC) in the 5050-alloy case.  Based on their preliminary decision in late 2015, we are confident we will see a similar outcome.  In that preliminary decision the DOC agreed with us that the minor change in chemistry made to these so-called 5xxx alloyed extrusions a clear case of circumvention.  While ZhongWang was the target of our filing, the DOC agreed that this is a bigger scheme than just what ZhongWang was doing.  So, they made the proclamation industry-wide.  Assuming we get that final decision, this is a huge win for the industry.

The other issue of note is the fake pallets case.  In this case the DOC decided that pallets made from unalloyed aluminum extrusions are covered by the scope of our orders.  While we would have preferred to see the decision cover all alloys of these fake pallets, we can reserve the right to make that case if we see further shipments.  In the meantime, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, this case is still being investigated.  We stand ready to help those investigators as they may request.

So, what will this year bring? It’s hard to be certain.  Clearly we hope to see a successful Sunset Review, and conclusion to these open trade enforcement issues.  At that point we stand ready to take on the next challenge.  Surely by now, those that think they can injure our industry with these schemes have come to learn that the AEC will NOT stand idle.  Instead, we are ready to defend our industry to the end.

Extruder Survey: Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Petition

This month I come to you with a special request. The International Trade Analysts at the U.S. International Trade Commission that are assigned to the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Petition (MTBP) process are identifying domestic producers of the following aluminum products, or products that are like or directly competitive with those listed below. Legislation is pending to lower or eliminate tariffs on these items:

  • MTBP 2219: Machined cast aluminum loupe mountings with polytetrafluoroethylene coating (used in lights for dental exams and procedures)
  • MTBP 2746: Aluminum roof brace fittings for sheds
  • MTBP 3100: Aluminum extension poles; aluminum roller frames; aluminum adjustable frames designed for holding paint rollers of different sizes

We have created a survey asking our members if they ‘do’ or ‘can’ make extrusions for these applications (not necessarily ‘will’). If the answer is yes, we will put them on the list of domestic producers that can make these items.


Our attorneys will take that list and file our response. Responses are due by January 31, 2017. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and participation!

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