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EU would see quick spike in aluminum imports after US tariff: executive

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EU would see quick spike in aluminum imports after US tariff: executive

Brussels — The impact of US President Donald Trump's 10% tariff on aluminum importswould be noticeable in the European Union within three to four months of beingimplemented, European Aluminium Director General Gerd Gotz said Monday.

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Speaking during a press conference on the Section 232 tariffs inBrussels, Gotz said primary aluminum displaced from the US market from keyproduction hubs such as Russia and the Middle East would almost immediatelyfind their way to the EU. And within six to nine months, Europe would see anincrease of roughly 35% in semi-fabricated aluminum products that previouslyhad been bound for the US.

"Imposing tariffs on aluminum...is the wrong tool and does not fit thereal challenge we face -- and that's Chinese overcapacity and nothing else,"said Gotz.

He was joined at the conference, organized by the European SteelAssociation (Eurofer), by a handful of European metals, labor and governmentofficials in denouncing the 232 plan. Chinese aluminum overcapacity stood at 11 million mt in 2017 -- 40% oftotal world production and five times more than European production last year,Gotz said. The tariffs would further imbalance global trade flows, undermineUS/EU trade synergies and deviate attention and political momentum fromtackling China's overcapacity, he said.

"The 232 announcement will spark distrust and destabilize global tradeflows. I can hardly understand who can benefit from such a move -- probablytoo few and only for a very short time," Gotz said.

The situation presents a potential trade crisis for Europe, said Gotz,but he added "this crisis can also be seen as an opportunity" to work with theUS to address global overcapacity.

"Europe should speak with one voice and define a clear plan to respond toany attempt to impose unjustified duties to our strategic industries," hesaid. "Of course, we do not wish to see retaliation that would furtherescalate the situation, but should the US act...we call on the EuropeanCommission, shoulder to shoulder with its member states, to defend itsaluminum industry by taking appropriate and commensurate measures, includingimmediately implementing surveyance measures to monitor market developmentsand, if necessary, do safeguard measures."

--Christopher Davis, chris.davis@spglobal.com

--Edited by Kevin Saville, kevin.saville@spglobal.com