US to impose new duties on Chinese aluminium sheet products

Workers are seen near a vessel under construction at a shipyard of Huanghai Shipbuilding Co in Weihai, Shandong province, China. — Reuters photo

WASHINGTON: The US Commerce Department said it would impose final anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Chinese common alloy aluminium sheet products of 96.3 per cent to 176.2 per cent.

The decision marks the first time that final duties were issued in a trade remedy case initiated by the US government since 1985.

The Trump administration has promised a more aggressive approach to trade enforcement by having the Commerce Department launch more anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on behalf of private industry.

“We will continue to do everything in our power under US law to restrict the flow of dumped or subsidised goods into US markets,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement.

The final aluminium sheet duties, however, were reduced from those first imposed in April and July. The initial combined range was 198.4 per cent to 280.46 per cent.

In 2017, imports of common alloy aluminium sheet from China were valued at an estimated US$900 million, the Commerce Department said.

The flat-rolled product is used in transportation, building and construction, infrastructure, electrical and marine applications.

The US International Trade Commission (USITC) is scheduled to make its final injury determinations on Dec 20 after it voted 4-0 in January to authorise the investigation.

US aluminum industry firms including Aleris Corp, Arconic Inc, Constellium NV, Jupiter Aluminum Corp, JW Aluminum Company and Novelis Corp testified in December 2017 about what they termed a surge “in low-priced, unfairly traded imports of common alloy sheet from China.”

The firms said the volume of aluminium sheet product imports had increased by nearly 750 per cent over the last decade and by more than 91 per cent between 2014 and 2017.

This resulted in “significant market share gains by Chinese imports at the direct expense of the US industry.”

Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Virginia-based Aluminum Association, said in a statement the body and its members were ‘extremely pleased’ with the decision.

Wen Xianjun, vice-president of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, whose department leads aluminium anti-dumping negotiations with the United States, told Reuters, even the reduced final US duties made common alloy sheet exports to the country impossible.

The association is lodging a no-injury legal defence in a bid to overturn the duties.

“We think we are causing no harm to the United States. We are just waiting for the USITC to judge,” Wen said.

China’s aluminium exports fell by 3.6 per cent from September to 482,000 tonnes in October, the lowest since May, according to customs data released on Thursday. — Reuters

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