Really?! So, Trump is going to punish our allies, hurt the American economy and threaten American jobs while China gets a pass.
Once again, the administration is proving it has no ambitions to ‘save’ the aluminum market. While the domestic market is silent about the supposed ‘ramp up’ of domestic production, our government pushes forward with policies that continue to isolate our market and drive prices disproportionately higher versus the rest of the world. Trump’s announcement to include the E.U., Canada, and Mexico to countries on which he will place a 10% tariff demonstrates how out of step he is to our industry’s needs and threats. While the entire U.S. aluminum industry has screamed that China is the sole threat to our industry, the administration decides to bail out ZTE. The only silver lining is that he did NOT choose to enact quotas…yet.
In other news…
I trust you have seen the recent flurry of trade enforcement activity from the AEC in recent weeks. These results are the due to the renewed focus the AEC’s Fair Trade Committee has had on trade enforcement issues. It has been tough at times to maintain that focus with all of the noise out of Washington D.C., which we’ll discuss later, but nevertheless, the Committee has continued to push enforcement in the background.
Our first announcement came with the Vietnamese Circumvention case. Now that case has moved past a preliminary decision and into the full investigation. In the preliminary decision, Commerce found good cause for the case and has extended duties to Vietnamese exports to the U.S. Those shipments will be subject to the same duties as our China case. We expect this to hold up in the final determination, which should be announced by the end of this year.
Next, you saw the announcement that the AEC submitted its first-ever transshipment case to the new Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA) program. This case involved shippers from Malaysia that simply relabeled Chinese extrusions and shipped them to the U.S. We started working on this case last fall. It came from a referral from the International Fair Trade Alliance. So, our recent announcement informed everyone that EAPA has made its preliminary decision and will begin to impose duties on imports from those companies. We can’t know for certain, but typically the investigation will extend to those in the U.S. that ultimately bought the extrusions. In the False Claims Act in Florida a few years ago, the manufacturers that ultimately used those extrusions had to pay back duties and fines. We will have to wait and see how this one settles.
Shortly after our filing, there was another case brought to EAPA regarding door thresholds. As you should know, there is an active scope challenge underway about door thresholds. So, the timing of this claim and EAPA’s decision to move forward with that investigation gave us a one-two punch.
All I can say publicly at this point is that there will be more! So, continue to let me know of any cases you are seeing in the field. The AEC has expanded its toolbox, and may be able to help.
The other elements of our case have moved along well. We still await the preliminary results for this year’s administrative review, but expect the rates to stay at 86% AD and 20% CVD. We did get the court decision on the two appliance handle cases. One of them was a big win for us, the other, not so much. However, we will be filing a motion with the second case as the final decision was full of contradictions. The importance of this is that we would like strong language from the courts that could allow us to go back and fight for some applications we previously lost.
Elsewhere, the industry seems to be normalizing the ongoing chaos from the Russian Sanctions and the 232 Investigation. News reports suggest RUSAL is working hard to get out from underneath the Russian Oligarch. If successful, I believe there will be a large sigh of relief from the industry. While some extruders may be in a stronger position because they didn’t use RUSAL, the long term implications of RUSAL being unable to ship into the U.S. appears to be problematic. Others disagree, and believe metal units will flow to the U.S. to cover the gap, and RUSAL will backfill the needs of the countries that lose units to the U.S. Time will tell.
However, the 232 Investigation seems to have no end in sight. Each month, the President will be deciding whether or not to extend any exclusion. If he doesn’t, he is ‘offering’ tariffs or quotas. For the most part, the industry seems to have reconciled itself to the 10% tariffs. That is not the case with quotas. On this point, the AEC will continue to speak out against any attempts to restrict growth for our industry. The most recent Aluminum Association reports show a near 10% growth in shipments for our industry this year to date over 2017. We need the metal to keep this growth on track! In the short run, the greatest threat to us doing that is access to metal! If you have a story to tell on this matter, please let me know. Those ‘proof points’ are being heard in D.C.!
In summary, please let HQ know of trade enforcement issues you find in the field. We are better equipped now to handle them, and have a government agency looking to help us. Also, keep me informed on metal issues. When I am in D.C. or fielding calls from the media, it helps our story to have real life examples.
As always, thank you for your continued support!