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Aluminum Association President and CEO Heidi Brock testifies at a hearing in front of the Department of Commerce in June 2017. (file photo)

Aluminum Association Pushes for Full Exemptions for Trade Partners

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Aluminum Association President and CEO Heidi Brock made a last-second push to convince the Trump Administration to grant permanent exemptions to all U.S. trading partners that operate as market economies.

The association’s chief wrote a letter to the president, and an op-ed for, to make the case that China should remain the focus of the administration’s efforts at protecting the domestic aluminum industry. 

“As you continue to evaluate and implement the Section 232 remedy, I urge you to grant permanent exemptions – without quotas – for our aluminum trading partners that operate as market economies. I also encourage you to engage China to address structural aluminum overcapacity,” Brock wrote. 

She said the association’s member companies believe China’s behavior is driving massive overcapacity in both primary aluminum production and downstream products. She said the U.S. is at a chance to address the issue during current trade negotiations. 

As for other trade partners, Brock noted that the U.S. consumes more than 5 million metric tons of primary aluminum annually, but only has the capacity to produce 2 million tons. Building new smelters is a time-consuming venture. Moreover, 97 percent of the existing U.S. aluminum jobs are in mid- and downstream production, where they rely on imported metal. 

“We strongly believe that the Section 232 aluminum remedy should not disrupt current trading relationships with responsible trading partners. Any quotas on these key partners will only further distort the market, particularly if new sanctions on Russian aluminum lead to tightened supply conditions. Quotas would paradoxically cause imports of semi-fabricated products from China to be more competitive in the U.S. market, as manufacturers scramble to find metal,” Brock wrote. 

Trump is due to announce whether to extend exemptions for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the EU, Mexico and South Korea by the end of the day today. 

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