The head of the American trade group The Aluminum Association sent the secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department a letter last week urging him not to make broad exemptions in the ongoing Section 232 investigation of alleged aluminium dumping from China into the American market.
Heidi Brock sent the letter to Wilbur Ross on Tuesday in response to a letter sent him by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) seeking an exception to the investigation and possible sanctions arising from it for rolled can sheet used in beverage cans and bottle lids, citing concerns that interfering with the supply of such aluminium would have a harmful effect upon the domestic beer industry.
“As an industry directly impacted by Chinese overcapacity and unfair trading practices with respect to aluminum and aluminum products, we welcome the Section 232 investigation and encourage the Administration to consider actions that will specifically address Chinese overcapacity and its detrimental effects on U.S. producers and their workers,” wrote Brock.
“For all our products, we are denied access to Chinese lower cost inputs while at the same time having to compete on price with subsidized Chinese products. We therefore believe that any action taken by the President under the Section 232 investigation should exclude U.S. imports of aluminum and aluminum products from countries that abide by trade laws.”
The letter went on to say that making the broad exclusions requested by Baldwin and Gardner would open the door even further to transshipment of aluminium, alluding to the concurrent investigations being conducted by American customs officials against certain major Chinese aluminium extruders for same. In addition, Brock predicts that excluding can sheet will simply lead Chinese rolled aluminium firms to funnel their production into that sector, which will simply exacerbate the problems the industry currently has.
She also points out that the domestic industry depends upon not only high-value-added products, but also upon high-volume products, as the significant size of the installed capacity in American plants is only profitable with high volume output. Therefore, any action that does not stem the flow of high-volume products like rolled aluminium does little to improve the industry’s situation.