Aluminium Federation warns of knock-on effects of Trump tariffs

The Aluminium Federation has warned of the adverse impact of the proposed US import tariffs on aluminium and steel.

“The proposed 10% import tariff would clearly make UK-produced aluminium products more expensive in the US,” said Aluminium Federation President Giles Ashmead, “but these comprise mainly specialist items that US manufacturers would find difficult to source domestically.  The net result would be higher costs for US industry.

“Of greater concern is the unintended consequences of such unilateral tariffs. Even if the EU were exempted from this particular measure, the overall imposition of tariffs is likely to result in shipments of aluminium, especially from China and Russia, being diverted to Europe, creating market instability.”

   
 Giles Ashmead  Rolling aluminium sheet

Trade body European Aluminium estimates that a further 20% of primary aluminium exports and 35% of semi-fabricated aluminium products could end up in Europe, due to a redirection of metal flows from third countries following the imposition of US tariffs.

“Indiscriminate tariffs are a hindrance to free trade, and do little to secure a ‘level playing field’ for global commerce,” said Mr Ashmead.

“The root cause of the problem is overcapacity in primary aluminium production, especially in China, which last year produced 11 million tonnes of surplus aluminium, and the unfair trade practices that follow.

“This issue can only be managed effectively through a global and long-term solution, based on multilateral rules and common enforcement. The creation of a global forum of G20 nations on excess capacity in the aluminium industry would be the correct mechanism to achieve a negotiated solution.

“The Aluminium Federation is working on this issue with European Aluminium and, in the UK, we are collaborating closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to achieve a good outcome for UK industry. I am hopeful that the proposed US import tariffs will not be applied to the EU, and will, ideally, be dropped entirely.”