Trump to order probe into aluminum imports

30 April, 2017, 00:26 | Author: Courtney Perry
  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross speaks next to Press Secretary Sean Spicer at the White House in Washington

On another trade matter, Trump is set to sign a memo on Thursday afternoon authorizing an investigation into whether a flood of aluminum imports from China and elsewhere jeopardize national security.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the administration could bring a Section 232 case on aluminum.

High-purity aluminum is used to manufacture defense applications like aircraft and armor plating.

Ross said that because of steep competition from overseas, there is only one American smelter still in operation that produces high-purity, aerospace-quality aluminum.

"It's very, very risky, obviously from a national defense point of view, to only have one supplier of an absolutely critical material", he told reporters.

This is the president's second such move.

That followed a similar probe launched last week into steel, and comes in a week where Trump has escalated tensions with Canada over lumber imports, and dairy exports, and then announced plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, and threatened to pull out entirely unless there is a "fair deal".

From 2012 to 2015, imports of semi-fabricated aluminum from China grew by 183 per cent, the White House said.

China makes up 6.2 percent of the USA market share, Russian Federation 12.2 percent, United Arab Emirates 9.1 percent, and Canada is also a large player, according to Ross. During the signing he said of Ross, "He is quickly demonstrating to the entire world that we're serious about protecting our jobs and industries like aluminum". Since 2000, China has increased its share of the world aluminum market from less than 11 percent to nearly 53 percent, increasing production almost 12-fold. "It is critical for our national defences - the Army ground vehicles and the Air Force jets, the Navy warships", he told reporters at his daily news conference.

Still Canada easily leads the way, sending in more than 3 million of the 6.5 million tons the USA imported past year, significantly more than Russian Federation or China. "This is not a kind of China-phobic program".

Aluminum-exporting countries might retaliate by imposing tariffs of their own on USA products, warned the law firm White & Case, which put out a report in January on the president's legal powers to restrict foreign trade. Ross continued, "Ten years ago, US produced approximately 6.7 percent of the world's aluminum, now, as I mentioned, it's 2 and a fraction percent".

One of Donald Trump's main campaign promises was to introduce trade barriers in order to protect traditional industries such as steelmaking against cheap imports, especially from China.


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