Aluminum Association Proposes Alternatives to Global Tariffs

President Trump’s plan to place tariffs on imported aluminum and steel has raised major concerns across the manufacturing world. The Aluminum Association is proposing a more targeted approach to the problem of oversupply, focusing on China.

The association that represents U.S. aluminum makers wants the government to address trade issues that have harmed the industry. But it revealed this week that it doesn’t believe broad tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, announced last week by President Trump, are the right solution.

“On behalf of the Aluminum Association’s 114 member companies and the 713,000 U.S. jobs our industry supports, we are grateful for the attention that you and your administration have dedicated to our industry,” the group’s president and CEO, Heidi Brock, said in a letter to the president [PDF] on Monday. “However, we are deeply concerned about the effects of a global tariff on aluminum production and jobs in the United States.”

Brock instead urged a focus on China, which the association says illegally subsidizes producers, resulting in oversupply.

“Unfortunately, the tariffs proposed will do little to address the fundamental problem of massive aluminum overcapacity in China, while impacting supply chains with vital trading partners who play by the rules,” Brock wrote. “We fear that the proposed tariff may do more harm than good, hurting rather than helping the 97 percent of aluminum industry jobs in mid-and-downstream production processes.”

The association offered several specific recommendations, including targeted tariffs on Chinese imports and direct negotiations with the Chinese government to address oversupply issues. It also supports a monitoring system to boost transparency around aluminum products that enter the U.S.

“As time is of the essence, we would appreciate an opportunity to discuss these recommended actions with members of your administration,” Brock added.

The stance was echoed by at least one official in the steel industry. Byer Steel CEO Burke Byer told CNBC’s Closing Bell that tariffs would help his business, but he implied that he would be favor a more targeted approach.

“The fortunate thing about this situation is that the president has the ability within his power to carve out certain countries and products, which we fully support,” Byer said.

(SafakOguz/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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