In comments made by Aluminum Association President & CEO Heidi Brock to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) yesterday, Brock stressed the need for exemptions from aluminium quotas for both Canada and Mexico to be included in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) currently under negotiation.
During the hearing, entitled United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and Specific Industry Sectors, Brock emphasized the industry’s position that such quotas continue to do little to improve the sector.
“The [USMCA] simply cannot work as intended for the aluminum industry and our customers with tariffs – or quotas to limit access to supply – in place. Full, quota-free exemptions for Canada and Mexico from aluminum tariffs as part of this agreement will benefit the U.S. aluminum industry and the hundreds of thousands of American workers who depend on its success.”
Per the Association, over US$220 billion in aluminium was shipped from smelters in the United States to either Canada or Mexico since the initiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and around half of all aluminium either imported to or exported from the United States last year was smelted in or sent to either Mexico or Canada.
According to Brock, even if every U.S. smelter came online at full capacity instantly, the output would be far below that necessary to meet the robust and growing domestic thirst for aluminium.
“The U.S. aluminum industry faces an acute and persistent issue of illegally subsidized Chinese aluminum overcapacity in the market, but tariff or quota actions against countries like Canada and Mexico that operate as market economies do not address the China challenge and instead harm the overall competitiveness of the region.”
Brock also mentioned concerns with the Section 232 exclusion process as well as indicating that the aluminium industry continues to evaluate possible changes due to rules of origin relating to automobiles.
She closed by recognizing the government’s diligence in insuring that mechanisms to monitor and prevent transshipments become part of the USMCA.
“We very much support the effort to establish a shared framework for new disciplines on market-distorting policies and practices – and to set a template for future trade agreements,” Brock concluded. “From the beginning, we have supported a modernized North American trade agreement, and USMCA achieves that in important ways. However, we urge the president to resolve the Section 232 tariffs on aluminum imports for our neighbors to ensure free movement of aluminum and aluminum products within North America.”