Commentary: U.S. tariffs fail to dent Chinese aluminium export surge – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – December 11, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – The U.S. International Trade Commission has just slapped anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese common aluminium alloy sheet. It’s another brick in the trade wall being erected by the Trump administration as it seeks to insulate domestic manufacturers from the flood of what it deems unfairly subsidised Chinese products.

U.S. imports of Chinese alloy sheet surged by 731 percent between 2007 and 2017, with Chinese product accounting for nearly 40 percent of total imports last year, according to the U.S. Aluminum Association.

The latest action builds on similar penal duties imposed on imports of Chinese foil and the broader “Section 232” tariffs on all imports of aluminium and steel. However, China’s exports of aluminium products are still accelerating, with outbound flows on track to set a new record this year.

Quite evidently, what the rest of the world regards as the core problem facing the aluminum sector has so far not been touched by U.S. trade measures. Indeed, the tariffs wall may itself be leaking, with the Aluminum Association concerned about how the Department of Commerce is dealing with the multiple requests for exclusions.

China’s exports of aluminium in all forms grew by 21 percent to 5.3 million tonnes in the first 11 months of this year. This is the headline figure included in the preliminary snapshot released by China’s customs department and comprises primary metal, aluminium alloy and semi-manufactured products.

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