The Aluminum Association is calling for permanent, quota-free exemptions to the United States' Section 232 tariffs, to be granted to “responsible trading partners,” it said in a letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday April 24.
“We strongly believe that the Section 232 aluminium remedy should not disrupt current trading relationships with responsible trading partners,” Heidi Brock, president and chief executive officer of the Arlington, Virginia-based trade group, wrote.
Temporary exemptions were granted to such countries as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the European Union and are set to expire on May 1. South Korea also received an exemption for steel imports but the tariff still applies to imports of aluminium from the nation, according to Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative's office. Japan is notably absent from the list despite expectations that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would secure an exemption at his meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida, on April 18.
The Aluminum Association also urged President Trump to “engage China to address structural aluminium overcapacity.” China has been criticized by the association’s member companies for market-distorting behavior and of being responsible for overcapacity in the global primary aluminium and downstream markets.
The US has less than 2 million tonnes of primary aluminium smelting capacity despite consuming more than 5 million tonnes of the metal per year, according to the trade group.
“Now that the United States is at a major turning point in trade negotiations with China, we see a historic opportunity for you to address this persistent problem once and for all,” Brock wrote. “Focusing the Section 232 aluminium remedy on Chinese overcapacity is the best way to support our country’s economic strength, national security and jobs.”
The spot P1020 premium stands at 22-23 cents per lb, according to American Metal Market's April 24 assessment, unchanged from the prior level but up by 32.4% since the Section 232 tariffs on aluminium imports were signed into law on March 8.