Trump Receives Commerce Department Investigation Into Aluminum Imports

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

It's crunch time.

The Commerce Department on Friday delivered its national security investigation into aluminum imports to the White House, Inside U.S. Trade reports. The delivery follows that of a similar Commerce Department report on steel imports that was sent to President Trump on Jan. 11.

Trump has 90 days after receiving the "Section 232" reports to decide whether to act to safeguard American-made aluminum and steel, meaning any action must occur by mid-April, about a year after the launch of the two investigations.

The Trump administration initially had pledged to move swiftly with both investigations, promising action by the end of June 2017. But the White House instead opted to focus on issues like health care and tax reform, which made the ongoing crisis worse; steel imports alone were up 15.5 percent in 2017 as foreign importers rushed product into the market to get ahead of potential White House action.

Like steel, aluminum is a critical part of America's national security and is directly threatened by surging foreign imports. Brig. Gen. John Adams, U.S. Army-Ret., wrote in a Jan. 10 op-ed for The Hill that state-owned smelters in places like China, Russia, and the Middle East have added 17 million metric tons of new aluminum capacity since 2009. American aluminum manufacturers, who play by the rules and aren't state-run, have seen a nearly 60 percent reduction in capacity and more than 4,000 U.S. jobs have been lost. Added Adams:

U.S. producers of finished products that are directly used in U.S. military and critical infrastructure are becoming increasingly dependent on imports. High-purity, American-made aluminum is used in defense platforms including F-35, F-18 and F-16 fighter jets and other military aircraft, littoral combat ships, armor for the light tactical vehicle program, tank hulls, missile structures and more. Yet, this vital material is only produced in one remaining smelter in the United States, producing at only 40 percent capacity and under great economic pressure to compete with Chinese dumping.    

Adams also appeared at a recent China Trade Task Force event alongside United Steelworkers International Vice President Tom Conway, Century Aluminum CEO Mike Bless, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to call for swift action on the aluminum investigation.

"This could be our best, and last, opportunity to make sure this industry is here tomorrow for our men and women in uniform and for the communities that depend on the good jobs that the industry supports," said Bless, whose company is the only remaining U.S. maker of the high purity aluminum needed for fighter jets and other equipment.

Conway noted during the Jan. 10 event that aluminum workers are counting on Trump to keep his promise to "stand up to governments that don't play by the rules."

"USW members across the country want President Trump to do the right thing for our nation's security and critical infrastructure and for thousands of American aluminum workers and their families," Conway added.  

In a Jan. 21 statement, Aluminum Association President Heidi Brock said her organization expects the 232 report will "recognize the significant role the aluminum industry plays in ensuring our nation's security and welcome the opportunity to engage the administration on an appropriate remedy that will benefit the entire aluminum value chain."


Reposted from AAM

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