Commerce Nails 18 Countries With Steel-Dumping Duties

Steel beams sit outside Arena de Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo, Brazil. President Donald Trump has been threatening to slap tariffs on Brazilian steel and aluminum imports since at least 2019. (AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop, File)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Spurred by industry members to crack down on aluminum dumping, the Trump administration announced tariffs Friday against 18 countries.

Calling their aluminum sheet investigations “the broadest U.S. trade enforcement action in two decades,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement said it found that foreign companies had been underpricing aluminum products in the U.S. market below the cost or production value of their home markets.

In addition to a trade group, U.S. companies from Virginia, Texas, West Virginia and Pennsylvania had petitioned the Commerce Department to look into potential trade violations.

Brazil, Greece, Germany, South Korea and Spain are among the 18 countries hit with anti-dumping duties Friday as part of the probe. 

Explaining how the rates at which countries unfairly subsidize the value of their products into the U.S. marketplace varies, the release notes countries like Bahrain have consistently flooded the marketplace with subsidized aluminum at a price greater than 4.21% more than the production cost in the country.

In 2019, Bahrain imported more than 69,700 metric tons of aluminum into the country, valued at more than $240 million

Other countries, like Italy, went from 0% dumping common alloy aluminum  sheet to 29.13%.

U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection will be directed to “collect cash deposits” from importers, though the news release does not outline their collection procedure. Ross estimated that amount will be near $1.96 billion.

“What’s notable is that China is not on the list,” Ross told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo the action was the most far-reaching in more than 20 years. “China, we have many, many tariffs against their aluminum products so what’s really been happening, is Chinese excess capacity has been dumped into other markets, that in turn displaces production, which gets dumped here.”

If the Commerce Department’s final determinations on the dumping are conclusive, the issue will move to the International Trade Commission. That body — a bipartisan, semijudicial federal agency responsible for monitoring international trade — will make a final decision on the issue and consequences by April 5, 2021.

Hundreds of millions in trade dollars flow through the American economy annually from varying international relationships. The release notes imports of aluminum alloy were valued at $200.2 million from Oman and $286.6 million from Germany. 

Ross said aluminum demand also had increased in light of the countervailing duty of the U.S., noting a recent trip to Indiana where a recreational vehicle company told him they were backlogged months on advanced orders — despite pricing.

“What’s really happening is a lot of Americans are deciding they don’t want to travel by plane, they don’t want to go overseas so they’re buying pretty luxurious recreational vehicles, importantly made out of aluminum and they’re using them for vacation homes,” he said.

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