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Trade Union Files, Suspends Global Safeguard Petition on Unwrought Aluminium

The United Steelworkers announced on 22 April the suspension of its section 201 global safeguard petition on primary unwrought aluminium from all countries, which had sought a four-year schedule of higher tariffs to combat what the USW said was a “flood” of imports injuring the domestic industry. The withdrawal appears to have prompted the USITC to remove from its web site a notice announcing its institution of a section 201 investigation.

The USW had sought the immediate imposition of an additional 50 percent duty on imports of primary unwrought aluminium and then a four-year schedule of safeguard duties that would have started at 50 percent and declined to 35 percent in annual increments. However, USW International President Leo Gerard said opposition to the petition from “many in the industry” who had placed “short-term interests over the long-term viability of the sector” called into question whether the USITC would be able to grant “relief for the remaining domestic industry.” Gerard acknowledged that senior U.S. and Canadian officials have been “engaged in meaningful discussions at the most senior levels” and expressed hope that this will lead to a long-term solution.

Primary unwrought aluminium is used in aircraft and weapon systems, construction, manufacturing and electrical transmission. The USW noted in a press release that while most of the aluminium imported into the United States comes from Canada, the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela, the world has been going through a period of significant imbalance between supply and demand principally caused by “massive capacity additions” in mainland China. This imbalance needs to be corrected, the USW said, and the original petition called for negotiations with trading partners, principally mainland China, toward that end.

Under section 201 domestic industries seriously injured or threatened with serious injury by increased imports may petition for import relief. If the USITC finds that the injury or threatened injury is serious and that the increased imports are a substantial cause (important and not less than any other cause), it recommends to the president relief that would prevent or remedy the injury and facilitate industry adjustment to import competition. The president makes the final decision on whether to provide relief and the amount of any such relief.

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