US Imposes Tariffs on Aluminum Sheet From 18 Countries

October 9, 2020 Updated: October 12, 2020

The  Trump administration is imposing new tariffs on $1.96 billion worth of aluminum sheet products from 18 countries after determining that the goods were being “dumped” in the United States, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Oct. 9.

The tariffs are being imposed immediately, even though the department’s determination that there was dumping are preliminary, he told Fox Business Network.

Bahrain, Brazil, Croatia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Oman, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey are the 18 countries affected by the tariffs, he said. The tariff rate would be largest against Germany, in a range from 52 percent to 132 percent, followed by Bahrain with rates in single digits, Ross said.

The announcement follows a U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) investigation prompted by allegations that U.S. industry was “materially injured” by imports of aluminum sheet from the countries listed above, with the products “sold in the United States at less than fair value and subsidized by the governments of Bahrain, Brazil, India, and Turkey.”

Petitions prompting the investigation were filed in March by The Aluminum Association Common Alloy Sheet Working group and its individual members.

A preliminary report from the investigation (pdf) found “a reasonable indication” that the allegation was accurate. Ross said the USITC would issue its final determination early next year.

China wasn’t on the list as the Trump administration had already imposed tariffs on Beijing’s aluminum products, Ross said.

President Donald Trump’s tariff-heavy trade policies have sought to shield domestic industries from unfair foreign competition. In January, Trump extended previously imposed “national security” tariffs on steel and aluminum to cover more products. In a sharp break from recent years, the administration brought in $79 billion in tariffs in 2019, twice the value of those in place during the final year of President Barack Obama’s administration.

An accurate assessment of whether the policies have had a net gain is elusive, as benefits to workers in import-competing industries are, to some degree, offset by losses to workers employed in factories that use imported goods as inputs in their production and to those working in export industries, who may have been hit by retaliatory tariffs.

U.S. Steel has defended Trump’s tariffs, with spokeswoman Meghan Cox saying the president’s policies help “ensure the strength of America’s steelmaking capacity during this pandemic.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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