In 2010, the first signs of a trade war surfaced, when the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports of aluminum extrusions from China. The idea was to give domestic extruders a shot at gaining market share, and initially there were indications of success. It hasn’t always been so clear, however, exactly which products fall under AD/CVD orders. Regarding door thresholds made of extruded aluminum, the U.S. Department of Commerce has issued clarification: those products are included, despite being finished merchandise.

Following requests for scope rulings from companies Columbia Aluminum Products LLC, Worldwide Door Components Inc. and MJB Wood Group Inc., on December 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued final decisions in three proceedings, confirming that door thresholds are covered by the scope of the AD/CVD orders on aluminum extrusions from China. The proceedings also drew the participation of officials for the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) and Endura Products Inc. Officials for AEC say they provided the U.S. Department of Commerce with information demonstrating that door thresholds containing extruded aluminum are covered and were intentionally included within the scope by the petitioner during original investigations. The Department of Commerce agreed, confirming the express inclusion of door thresholds, explaining that, for this reason, door thresholds cannot be removed from the coverage of the AD/CVD orders pursuant to the claim that those products are finished merchandise.

“This is a clear win for the aluminum extrusion industry in the United States,” says AEC president Jeff Henderson. “The trade orders, which have been in effect since April 2011, clearly state door thresholds were covered by our orders. It was very important to the AEC and its members that [the U.S. Department of] Commerce stand by its orders and declare these extrusions subject to the duties.”

The move marks an important step forward in addressing evasive practices by various Chinese extruders, suggests Robert DeFrancesco, counsel to the AEC and Endura Products.

“This ruling is critical for ensuring that the AD/CVD orders are effectively enforced so that American jobs are not harmed from unfair trade,” DeFrancesco says. “We urge the [U.S. Department of Commerce] and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to continue to take all necessary measures to ensure that the AD/CVD orders on aluminum extrusions are being fully enforced.”

In the long term, it stands to be seen how effective AD/CVD orders prove to be for the U.S. economy. In the meantime, however, there are proponents who point to what they say are immediate positive indicators. A new report produced by Robert E. Scott, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute, claims that tariffs have been effective at increasing jobs and U.S.-based aluminum production. Amid his findings, Scott reports that, “aluminum tariffs have led to a strong recovery in employment, production and investment in primary aluminum and downstream industries,” further suggesting that steel and aluminum tariffs are responsible for a 67-percent increase in aluminum production. And that, he predicts, will create more than 1,000 new jobs, while generating $100 million in new investments.

So far as the status of the overall trade war is concerned, as of September 2018, the balance of U.S. exports/imports with China tipped beyond the negative $40 billion mark for the first time ever. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the U.S. exported $9.8 billion in goods in September, while it imported more than $50 billion. While the latest data hangs in limbo amid a government shutdown, as of October, that number had tipped even farther, to more than negative $43 billion.

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