Association News

NA Aluminum Groups Call for Tariff-Free Trade

By on

The Aluminum Association, Instituto Mexicano del Aluminio and the Aluminium Association of Canada called for continued tariff-free trade, increased import monitoring and stronger trade enforcement in a letter to trade officials in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The letter came ahead of a summit in Mexico City highlighting the past and future of the North American aluminum trading relationship. 

“For decades, our industries have relied on cross-border trade within the North American region to help make some of the highest quality and lowest carbon aluminum and aluminum products in the world. Indeed, Canada and Mexico are the United States’ first- and second-largest aluminum trading partners, respectively. In 2022, our nations traded more than $47 billion worth of aluminum and aluminum products across the region,” the letter noted. 

The North American aluminum industry called for several actions ahead of a mandated review of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 2026. They include:

Continued Tariff-Free Trade in North America: The continued tariff-free trade of aluminum within North America is critical to the industries in all three of our countries, the groups claimed. The integrated market allows each country to focus on its respective competitive advantages while benefiting from the unique strengths offered by aluminum firms in the other countries. Maintaining Section 232 aluminum tariff exemptions for Canada and Mexico benefit the sector across North America. The filing of a 15-country trade case, which includes Mexico, by a subsection of U.S. aluminum extrusion producers threatens to overshadow the longstanding coordination and partnership between the aluminum industries in the three countries, the groups claimed.

• Increased Regional Aluminum Import Monitoring: Under the terms of the agreement removing Section 232 tariffs in favor of the USMCA, each country agreed to “establish an agreed-upon process for monitoring aluminum and steel trade between them.” In subsequent years, both the United States and Canada have stood up new or enhanced aluminum import monitoring programs, but Mexico has not. “We urge the Mexican government to promptly implement such a program to meet the mutual commitment under the Section 232 exemption joint letter,” the letter claimed.

• Strengthened Regional Trade Enforcement: Across the region, it is essential to combat the unfair and illegal trade of aluminum, which has challenged the global industry in recent years. Both the United States and Mexico were the victims of a significant aluminum transshipment scheme in the mid-2010s in which massive volumes of Chinese aluminum billet was disguised as a different product to avoid hundreds of millions in tariffs. Both the United States and Mexico have pursued successful antidumping and countervailing duty cases against unfairly traded Chinese aluminum over the past several years. Continued vigilance and enforcement of global trade laws in the sector is needed, the groups argued.

• Full Support of the Aluminum Sustainability Agenda: The governments must continue to support industry in its pursuit of decarbonization efforts and the broader aluminum sustainability agenda. This support may include research for next generation production techniques and increased recycling efforts.

The Aluminum Extruders Council responded to one of the claims made by the three trade groups.

“The AA is aware that U.S. producers of semi-fabricated products, which include but are not limited to extrusions, continue to face an onslaught of unfairly traded and subsidized imports from a host of countries, including Mexico. While the AA recognizes the legitimacy of concerns regarding Mexican aluminum trade (stating, for example, that Mexico has not abided by its agreement with regard to aluminum import monitoring) and the need for strengthened U.S. trade enforcement, it appears to unjustifiably believe that such trade remedy protections should not be extended to U.S. aluminum extruders. These claims are both myopic and tone deaf,” the response read.

“Contrary to the AA’s claims, USMCA does not insulate U.S. producers and their workers from unfair trade practices. In fact, Mexico has allowed other countries like China and Russia to weaponize USMCA by allowing Mexican extruders to process unfairly traded metal to gain market share in the United States.”