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US tariff on aluminum harmed both Canadian producers and US buyers in 2018: Albecour

San Diego — The enforcement of a 10% tariff on aluminum imports into the US last year harmed not only US consumers, but also Canadian suppliers, said Albecour's general manager Pierre Boisvert in a presentation at S&P Global Platts' Aluminum Symposium in San Diego.

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"In reality, there were no winners in 2018 -- US aluminum consumers needed to pay more [due to the tariff], while Canadian producers netted less because of it," he said.

Boisvert stressed the importance of Canadian aluminum in the US as it accounted for 51% of imports between January and October last year, despite Canada not being granted an exemption of the tariffs.

However, Canadian primary aluminum exports to the US progressively decreased from around 200,000 mt/month in 2017 to as low as 150,000 mt/month during the second half of 2018 after the enforcement of the tariff. On the other hand, Canadian shipments to Europe boomed to over 30,000 mt in October 2018 from less than 5,000 mt in the same month one year before.

"Agreements signed between Canada and Europe allowing Canadian metal free of duties in Europe were key for this shift," he said.

For the near future, Albecour is optimist about the demand as it expects a global aluminum deficit of 1.8 million mt this year and 1.4 million mt in 2020, with 3%-3.5% growth in demand. However, "Canadian producers will remain affected by high alumina prices and US tariffs, and there is no clear sign that they will be lifted soon," he added.

-- Henrique Ribeiro, henrique.ribeiro@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Derek Sands, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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