The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) announced a unanimous determination that unfairly-traded imports of aluminum foil from five countries have materially injured U.S. producers. As a result, the U.S. Department of Commerce will publish unfair trade orders on imports of aluminum foil from Armenia, Brazil, Oman, Russia, and Turkey. In 2019, the value of U.S. imports of aluminum foil from these countries was approximately $272 million. The USITC’s determination brings a successful conclusion to investigations that were initiated following the filing of petitions requesting relief by the Aluminum Association’s Foil Trade Enforcement Working Group on September 29, 2020.
“We are thrilled with today’s unanimous determination, which will provide much-needed relief from a second wave of unfairly-traded imports from five countries that hammered domestic producers just as they were beginning to recover from an onslaught of imports from China,” said Ryan Olsen, Aluminum Association vice president for market growth and development. “This decision will help ensure that domestic producers can make full use of the more than $500 million in foil-related capital investments made in recent years. Those investments were made based on the expectation that healthy market conditions would follow from a 2018 decision to apply tariffs on unfair imports from China. We greatly appreciate the work of the USITC and its staff to come to this fair decision that will help level the playing field for American manufacturers.”
In the final determinations announced today, the Commerce Department calculated antidumping and countervailing duty deposit rates (including both final countervailing and antidumping duties), as follows:
- Armenia – 29.11%
- Brazil – 13.93 to 63.05%
- Oman – 5.82%
- Russia – 62.18%
- Turkey – 4.88 percent
The aluminum foil that is subject to the unfair trade investigations includes flat-rolled aluminum products that are 0.2 mm or less in thickness (less than 0.0079 inches) in reels weighing more than 25 pounds and that is not backed. The determination does not cover etched capacitor foil or foil that has been cut to shape. Certain aluminum foil is used extensively in food and pharmaceutical packaging, household foil, thermal insulation, cables, electronics, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) applications and other heat transfer products where properties such as light weight, resistance to corrosion, and formability are desired.
Previously in March 2021, the USITC also issued a unanimous determination that unfairly traded imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from 16 countries were materially injured U.S. producers, issuing unfair trade orders on imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from Bahrain, Brazil, Croatia, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Oman, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey. This previous determination included The common alloy aluminum sheet that is subject to the unfair trade investigations is a flat-rolled aluminum product having a thickness of 6.3 mm or less, but greater than 0.2 mm, in coils or cut-to-length, regardless of width, that is manufactured from a 1xxx, 3xxx, or 5xxx series alloy. This includes both unclad aluminum sheet, as well as multi-alloy, clad aluminum sheet, which is commonly used for gutters and downspouts, building facades, street signs and license plates, electrical boxes, kitchen appliances, and tractor-trailers for trucks. Aluminum can stock was excluded from the scope of the investigations.
European Commission in Limbo Regarding Duties
On October 8th, the European Commission published a regulation imposing the definitive anti-dumping duties on certain flat-rolled products from China. The products subject to the provisional duties are flat rolled aluminum products, whether or not they alloyed or further worked than flat rolled form, whether they are not backed or without internal layers of other material, including material that is:
• in coil or in coiled strip, in cut-to-length sheet, or in the form of circles, which are of a thickness of 0.2 mm or more but not more than 6 mm
• in plate of a thickness of more than 6 mm
• in coil or coiled strip of a thickness of not less than 0.03 mm, but less than 0.2 mm
Excluded are beverage can stock, body panels for the car industry, and aluminum used in the manufacture of aircraft parts. The main applications of the products concerned are the building and construction sector, foil sector, technical applications, transport sector, and consumer durables.
However, the European Commission simultaneously made a decision to suspend these duties for nine months with immediate effect.
European Aluminium, the voice of the European aluminum value chain, welcomes the European Commission’s final confirmation of the definitive anti-dumping duties needed to counteract the impact of Chinese dumping of flat-rolled products (FRPs) on the EU market. Accordingly, EA strongly opposes the contradictory nine-month suspension of these duties, and the organization stated it is “ready to pursue all available avenues to fight the unjustified suspension of the long-overdue trade defense measures.”
The European Commission’s Definitive Findings in the anti-dumping investigation into certain aluminum flat-rolled products (FRP, case AD668) confirmed that China practices injurious dumping of aluminum FRPs on the EU market, causing significant material injury to EU producers. Definitive anti-dumping duties are set at 14% to 25% to raise China’s dumped prices to market-conform prices. However, the duties, which were green-lighted by the EU Member States and set to be implemented on October 12, are now suspended for 9 months.
European Aluminium believes the suspension sets a dangerous precedent for trade defense cases in other sectors, and sends the wrong signal to both international trade partners and China regarding the EU’s commitment to fighting unfair trade practices.
“The definitive anti-dumping duties set by the Commission are justified, balanced and long-overdue. China has been dumping underpriced and high-carbon aluminum on our market for many years, jeopardizing the viability of our industry in the long run while compromising the EU’s Green Deal ambitions, said Gerd Götz, Director of European Aluminium. “The decision to suspend the definitive duties is illogical and goes against the assertive trade defense policy announced by the Commission. We urge the European Commission to annul the duty suspension and effectively leverage its trade defense tools to level the playing field for European aluminum producers.”
The suspension will have a devastating impact on the EU aluminum value chain, even beyond the suspension period. According to European Aluminium, tens of thousands of EU jobs and investments into decarbonization and recycling are at risk. Besides the long-term economic blow, the association believes the suspension will give a carte blanche to China’s dumped high-carbon aluminum imports, while the European aluminum industry has proven it holds sufficient capacity to supply Europe’s aluminum demand with more sustainable aluminum.
The carbon footprint of European primary aluminum production is one of the lowest globally: approximately 7 kg of CO2 per kg of aluminum compared to the Chinese average of 20 kg of CO2 per kg of aluminum.
“The suspension is the result of an inadequate, rushed 30-day investigation and contradicts the findings of the European Commission’s initial anti-dumping investigation, which confirmed the existence of material injury. We cannot accept that the EU will allow the proven injury to European aluminum producers to continue based on an unjustified suspension, so we are exploring all available options to fight it,” Götz concluded.