On April 27, 2017, the Commerce Department announced that President Trump signed a presidential memorandum calling on Secretary Ross to prioritize a Commerce investigation to the effects of aluminum imports on US national security. The inquiry will consider overcapacity, dumping, illegal subsidies, and other factors, to determine whether aluminum imports threaten American economic security and military preparedness.
After a thorough investigation, Secretary Ross will provide a report that includes recommendations for next steps. Under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, the President has broad power to adjust imports—including through the use of tariffs—if excessive foreign imports are found to be a threat to US national security.
Eight U.S. based smelters have either closed or curbed production since 2015. There are only two U.S. smelters remain fully operational, and only one North American smelter capable of producing high purity aluminum needed for many national security applications. Products that require such high purity aluminum include the F-35, F-18, C-17, and next generation military vehicles.
While these defense concerns continue to loom, the US aluminum industry has struggled in recent years. Industry employment has declined, companies are highly leveraged, and businesses remain both capital intensive and lacking strong cash flow. Imports increased by 18 percent in 2016 compared with those in 2015, while at the same time U.S. production decreased.
More than 713,000 U.S. jobs are supported by the aluminum industry.
The investigation will include a formal request for public comment to be published in the Federal Register.
Click HERE for a fact sheet.