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Fair Trade Update: Opportunities and Risk

Over the last thirty days the AEC has begun to feel the impacts of the new administration.  Last month, the administration initiated a 232 Hearing into the domestic aluminum industry.  Just one week prior to that, Trump initiated a 232 Hearing into the domestic steel industry.  Both of these were requested by the United Steel Workers (USW).  (As you may recall, the USW led a short-lived effort to launch a 201 hearing about this time last year.)  You can read more about the 232 process and what it might mean to the AEC here (note: you must be signed in as a member to view the content).  The long and the short of it is that this is both an opportunity and a risk for our industry.  The AEC will be participating in the process as it is imperative that we make our voice heard.  In preparation of that task, we will need your help.  The 232 process grants the U.S. president a wide range of options to address negative trade issues upon U.S. industries based on national security issues.

Therefore, we have sent templates out to members asking them to identify the tonnage shipped to certain end uses we believe fall under the national security banner.  We must do this with urgency as Trump has made it clear they will not be using the full timeline available to them to make decisions.

As an industry, our orders have served us well.  However, we still see too many end use applications being excluded from our orders.  Also, we continue to receive multiple reports of possible transshipment and circumvention of our orders.  These are two areas in which we could find relief from the 232 order.  On the other hand, some may want to see tariffs placed on foreign ingot.  On this, we cannot support duties on ingot.  This will put the U.S. industry on an uneven playing field with the global market.  So, we have a duel role in our involvement in this case, enhance our orders, and resist any duties on foreign ingot.

Elsewhere, the AEC has issued its support for the investigation underway concerning China’s request to be recognized as a market economy.  Our voice along with dozens of our industries should provide the administration with all it needs to address China’s overcapacity issues and their market economy status.

Our case continues to move forward.  The next announcement we expect will be from the DOC on our administrative review.  We should see the preliminary rates for 2017/2018 in the coming weeks.  No surprises are expected.  There’s not been much movement on our scope cases since last month.  However, we do expect a final ruling on the aluminum pallets next month, and a final decision on the 5050 circumvention case shortly thereafter. On the curtain wall case, we are awaiting the new judge’s decision on how he would like to proceed.  Whether he makes a decision based on the record or calls for a hearing, there will be at least one more court case on this scope challenge.

In summary, just when our case was starting to take a deep breath, we find a new opportunity to improve our position, and in the middle of some of the most unprecedented trade maneuverings our industry has ever seen.

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