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Aluminum Association opposes Chinese can sheet tariff exclusions

Pittsburgh — The Aluminum Association said Friday it objects to exclusion requests under Section 301 tariffs for aluminum can sheet imported from China, citing such exclusions undermine efforts to address China's aluminum oversupply.

Such an exclusion "would undercut broader efforts by the [Trump] administration to address unfair market practices in that country including persistent, state-subsidized overcapacity," the Aluminum Association said in its weekly report.

The trade association submitted a letter of objection to the Office of the US Trade Representative specifically regarding two exclusion requests for aluminum can sheet body stock and end stock from Chinese importers, the report said.

Aluminum Association Vice President of Policy & International Trade Lauren Wilk said in the letter the Section 301 duties are crucial for pressing the Chinese government to reduce structural overcapacity across the aluminum value chain that has distorted the market.

"We strongly believe that broad exclusions from tariffs on imports of aluminum and aluminum products from China significantly diminish the incentives for the government of China to take action to address the massive overcapacity in its aluminum industry," Wilk said in the letter. She added that broad product exclusions to the tariffs undermine the Section 301 tariffs and encourage Chinese producers with overcapacity to manufacture more tariff-excluded can sheet products instead of other flat-rolled products.

"Because China's slowing economy cannot absorb all of the metal it produces domestically, more and more of its semi-fabricated and downstream production is being exported to global markets," Wilk said.

The letter said US aluminum producers provided nearly 95% of the domestic can sheet market in 2018, adding that there are several available import sources other than China to meet growing demand for aluminum cans if necessary.

The Section 301 tariffs on select steel and aluminum products from China went into effect in July 2018.

Aluminum can sheet products are not included under the scope of antidumping and countervailing duty orders on common alloy aluminum foil and sheet from China that were published by the Department of Commerce in February.

-- Nick Lazzaro, nick.lazzaro@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com