US trade panel allows China aluminium sheet dumping probe to proceed

12th January 2018 By: Reuters

WASHINGTON – The US International Trade Commission on Friday said in an initial finding that imports of aluminium alloy sheet metal from China harm US producers, allowing a US probe to proceed into whether the product was being dumped or unfairly subsidized.

Employing a seldom-used tactic aimed at speeding up the imposition of duties, the US Commerce Department in November "self-initiated" anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations of the imports, which are typically used in construction and in transportation and electrical equipment.

It estimated it would impose anti-dumping duties of about 56.54% to 59.72% in the case.

About $603.6 million worth of the flat-rolled metal was imported from China in 2016. The probe excludes aluminium used in beverage can manufacturing.

The unanimous vote was applauded by the aluminium Association, which represents US aluminium producers and worked with Commerce on the probe.

"US companies that make common alloy aluminium sheet have suffered extensive injury thanks to unfairly traded imports from China for many years," the group's president, Heidi Brock, said in a statement.

But the National Marine Manufacturers Association said the decision was bad news for aluminium boat makers, a big part of a $3-billion recreational boating industry that claims to support 650 000 US jobs.

"The ruling is expected to significantly drive up the costs of aluminium used to manufacture more than 111,000 boats such as pontoons and fishing boats, which make up 43% of new powerboat sales," NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.

Earlier this week, US aluminium products makers sought new protections against Chinese aluminium shipped through Vietnam, asking Commerce to investigate allegations that China Zhongwang Holdings is circumventing US duties.

And next week, the Commerce Department is due to send the White House the results of its investigation into whether rising aluminium imports are threatening US national security, a probe likely to provide US President Donald Trump with an opportunity to levy broad tariffs or import quotas on aluminium.

The results of a similar "Section 232" national security probe into steel imports was given to Trump on Thursday night. Commerce did not reveal its recommendations.

China’s excess production capacity for both steel and aluminium has emerged as a major trade irritant for the US and Europe, prompting them to consider new steps to protect domestic industries and jobs from a flood of Chinese imports.