The Aluminum Extruders Coalition (AEC) and United Steelworkers (USW) filed a trade case this week with the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), in what AEC officials are calling “a fight for [its] very existence.” The case includes allegations of illegal and unfair dumping against 15 countries. By using “highly dumped and subsidized prices,” foreign producers of aluminum extrusions have gained a “significant and increasing share of the U.S. market at the direct expense of the U.S. industry,” AEC officials allege. They’re concerned about a rising threat of low-cost products and increased imports into the U.S. market.

Among the countries cited in the case are China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Producers of aluminum extrusions in those countries are selling extrusions in the U.S. market at less than fair value, dumping at rates of up to 256%, AEC and USW officials allege, which they say “distorts” the domestic market.

Petitions also allege that producers in China, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey unfairly benefit from countervailable subsidies provided by their governments, including such things as tax breaks and discounted land and raw materials. Those breaks provide unfair and artificial advantages to aluminum extrusions industries operating in those countries, both groups allege. They’re petitioning the U.S. government for protection, filing concurrently with Commerce and USITC.

“As it was with China over a dozen years ago, a courageous group of U.S. extruders have come forward to lead the industry in this ‘do or die’ battle,” says AEC president Jeff Henderson. “The percentage of the market being supplied by the domestic industry is at its lowest level ever recorded. If the industry did not take this bold measure, our nation would lose this valuable piece of the supply chain.”

In 2022, AEC reported that the share of the U.S. market for aluminum extrusions had decreased from 80% to 75% after tariffs were revoked, which translates to 300 million pounds of extrusions. That amount is equivalent to eight extrusion plants and 2,000 jobs, officials said at the time.

Currently, AEC and USW are asking government officials to stand behind a previous position in which it declared the U.S. aluminum extrusion industry a vital part of national security, harkening back to January 2018, when then U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross shared the results of an investigation into the effect of imports of aluminum articles on national security under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. At the time, Ross advised President Donald J. Trump that aluminum articles were being imported into the U.S. “in such quantities and under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security of the United States.”

According to AEC and USW officials, the case at hand responds to large and increasing volumes of “unfairly priced imports of aluminum extrusions” beginning in 2019.

“We, as a country, cannot afford to lose the most highly engineered of all aluminum products,” Hendersen says. “If we do, we not only lose this vital capacity and capability, but also all the next generation of products that will be developed using aluminum extrusions.”

Commerce will determine whether to initiate investigations within 20 days of this week’s filing. USITC will reach a preliminary determination of material injury or threat of material injury within 45 days. A full investigative process would be expected to take approximately one year, AEC officials say, but duties can be assigned to imports amid preliminary determinations, or earlier, if circumstances are deemed critical.

The current trade case, “seeks to put an end to foreign producers’ attempts to take market share using dumped and subsidized prices at the expense of the U.S. aluminum extrusion industry and their workers,” says Robert DeFrancesco, partner in Wiley’s International Trade Practice and counsel to the petitioners. “We urge Commerce and the USITC to thoroughly investigate these unfair trade practices and effectively apply the trade laws to dumped and subsidized aluminum extrusions from the 15 countries subject to the petitions.”

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