North American trade group the Aluminum Association published an open letter to the Trump administration on Monday calling on U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to use the occasion of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations to press for quota-free exemptions on aluminium imports from Canada and Mexico.
The letter, penned by Aluminum Association president & CEO Heidi Brock, urged Lighthiser to “use this negotiation process to address any national security questions specific to Canada and Mexico raised in the Commerce Department’s Section 232 report.”
“A successful negotiation for a modernized NAFTA should resolve these concerns, and I encourage you to recommend that President Trump provide a full exemption – without quotas – for aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico.”
Per the Aluminum Association, the U.S. aluminium sector generates almost US$71 billion in direct economic output, employing over 162,000 individuals along the way. And, despite difficulties in the global aluminium market, the sector’s jobs have grown by 3.5% since 2013 and has announced over US$2.6 billion in investments and expansions over the past several years.
However, as Brock points out, the current regime of tariffs on imported aluminium puts the continuation of such growth at risk. Though the Association continues to support Section 232 tariffs against non-market economies, Brock indicates that neither Mexico nor Canada meets such a description.
Rather than erecting barriers to trade, Brock urges a “modernized, trilateral NAFTA that includes both Canada and Mexico,” as “integrated North American supply chains are one reason that we have been able to meet growing demand year over year.”
Brock’s letter closed on a hopeful note, complimenting the administration on its efforts to promote free trade.
“We hope that your negotiations to modernize NAFTA will strengthen and expand opportunities under the agreement for the aluminum industry and our broad range of customers,” she said. “We appreciate the Administration’s continued efforts to advance free, fair and reciprocal trade across the globe.”