LONDON -Aluminum industry executives will line up on Thursday to have their say on whether foreign imports into the United States pose a threat to the country’s security. The Section 232 investigation was announced by the Department of Congress on April 27 and follows hot on the heels of a similar probe into U.S. steel imports, the results of which are pending.
Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, to give its full title, was last used in 2001 against imports of iron ore with a “no action necessary” outcome.
This time around, everyone’s expecting a different result. The Trump administration has pledged to stem the rising metallic import tide and reverse the ebbing of the country’s primary aluminum production capacity.
The United States was once one of the world’s largest producers with 22 aluminum smelters. The number of operating plants is down to just five, although in truth a lot of them closed years ago due to hard economics rather than imports.
A Section 232 investigation allows for broad tariffs against any and all imports, an artillery barrage rather than the precision targeting of specific product anti-dumping penalties. Which is why the North American aluminum industry is scrambling to direct U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade guns in the right direction. Towards China.
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