Published: Sat, February 17, 2018
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

Century Aluminum Company Commends Commerce Department Section 232 Report on Aluminum

Century Aluminum Company Commends Commerce Department Section 232 Report on Aluminum

The department said Ross will not announce Trump's decision on how to deal with the surge in steel and aluminium imports, which U.S. producers have said are unfairly hurting them.

The meeting also included brief comments by multiple participants on other trade matters, including South Korea (the KORUS FTA is a "very bad trade deal"), China (is "violating the worldwide rules, stealing our intellectual property, overproducing steel products"), Canada (has "treated us very, very unfairly when it comes to lumber and timber"), and NAFTA (the renegotiations are "making real headway" but still working through a number of issues).

Each of these remedies is meant to increase domestic steel production from its present 73% of capacity to approximately an 80% operating rate, the minimum rate needed for the long-term viability of the industry.

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he hoped the proposals "are the beginning of efforts by this administration to finally get tough on China".

Trump is expected to make a decision by April. From the countries singled out, they would not be allowed to import more aluminum than they did a year ago - just like with steel. "To the degree any exception were made, it would change the arithmetic on the other products", Ross said.

Some U.S. lawmakers and steel and aluminum users have urged caution in any restrictions to avoid disruptions or price spikes in the raw materials, used in everything from autos to appliances and aircraft and construction.

Other options would impose high tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminium imports.

Under these recommendations, tariffs on aluminum imports from China, Russia, Venezuela, and Vietnam specifically will climb to 23.5 percent.

Among its key findings, the report found that the United States is the world's largest importer of steel - with imports almost four times greater than its exports. He proposed a final alternative that involved no tariffs, but a quota on all steel products from all countries equal to 63 percent of their exports to the United States in 2017.

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president the power to restrict imports and impose unlimited tariffs if a Commerce Department investigation finds they threaten national security.

The blanket options do not exclude exemptions for the United States' North American Free Trade Agreement partners - Canada and Mexico - or its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies. The country's imports are almost four times the amount of exports, according to the report. The report recommends that a process be put in place to allow the DOC secretary to grant requests from USA companies to exclude specific products if the US lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations.

Steel stocks soared on the recommendations, with U.S. Steel up 9.7 percent, AK Steel up 9.9 percent and the broader S&P 1500 steel index up 4 percent.

China this week appealed to President Trump to settle the steel and aluminum disputes through negotiation.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said "any sign of unilateralism or protectionism will ... worsen global trade issues and will hurt the recovering momentum of the world economy".

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