Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
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Aluminum Foil Makers Say U.S. Hurt by Cheap China Imports

Updated on
  • U.S. trade tribunal preparing final ruling on China imports
  • Commerce imposed preliminary duties as high as 162 percent

U.S. producers of aluminum foil said cheap imports from China have devastated the American industry, making it imperative for the U.S. to impose duties on Chinese shipments.

Chinese companies have produced more primary aluminum in the last seven years than the U.S. industry has manufactured in its 124-year history, said Heidi Brock, president of the The Aluminum Association. “The increased volumes of low-priced aluminum foil imports from China have devastated domestic producers,” Brock told the U.S. International Trade Commission at a hearing Thursday in Washington.

The trade tribunal is preparing its final ruling on whether the U.S. industry has been harmed by aluminum foil made in China and sold below fair market value. The Commerce Department imposed preliminary anti-dumping duties in October of as high of 162 percent on imports from China. If ITC rules in favor of U.S. producers, which launched the complaint, the duties will become final.

A surge in cheap Chinese imports beginning in 2006 “decimated” prices for foil in the U.S., said Beatriz Landa, vice president at Novelis Corp., which makes aluminum products. As a result, the company closed a plant in Louisville, Kentucky, and stopped producing foil in the U.S. for households in 2014, she said.

Supply Dynamics

“We cannot continue to reduce prices on our product offerings and remain sustainable,” said Landa.

A spokeswoman for the Chinese metals industry rejected the dumping accusation, saying the aluminum market in both countries has been shaped by independent investment decisions by companies, market demand and shifts in supply dynamics. “Our success is not based on selling aluminum foil at low prices,” said Xinda Mo, an official with the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.

The ITC case is separate from other investigations into aluminum products that are being led by the Trump administration. The Commerce Department in November initiated an anti-dumping and countervailing duty case into Chinese alloy aluminum sheets and President Donald Trump is considering whether to impose duties on imports of aluminum, along with steel, to protect national security, with a decision due before mid-April.

(Adds quote from China industry official in sixth paragraph.)
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