AEC President Talks Chinese Aluminum, Curtainwall at AAMA Conference

Attendees of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) National Summer Conference this week got an overview of U.S. trade orders on Chinese aluminum extrusions and their impact on the curtainwall industry.

Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) president Jeff Henderson discussed a 2011 AEC victory in a trade case against China. After the win in the case, said Henderson, both anti-dumping and countervailing duties were put into place. The scope of orders included coverage of all extrusions that are 1000-, 3000- or 6000-series alloy. Also covered, said Henderson, are all coated extrusions, all fabricated extrusions and even those that come in the form of kits to be constructed later.

“Orders are good for five years, and the scope can be challenged to see whether an import is subject to duties,” said Henderson. “An annual administrative review is conducted to determine if rates should be raised or lowered.”

Enforcement issues regarding the scope of orders fall into one of two categories: circumvention or transshipment. There have been two transshipment cases that have been prosecuted since orders took effect.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has launched a Section 232 Investigation into the U.S. aluminum industry through the Department of Commerce (DOC). The 232 Investigation gives U.S. an opportunity to address those threats. “China is not exporting primary aluminum,” said Henderson. “It’s heavily subsidized aluminum that’s been extruded.”

Henderson said the AEC first noticed the dumping in 2008. Top markets for Chinese exports include Vietnam, Malaysia, the U.S. and, more recently, Thailand. Henderson said the AEC is going to ask the Trump administration to put tariffs on these countries for not policing these matters and allowing them to take place.

“Recent media reports indicate there is approximately 4.5 billion pounds of aluminum on the ground ready to be melted down and extruded,” said Henderson. “As underselling by Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia has increased, so has their U.S. market share, affecting our margins.”

The root of the problem, said Henderson, is the overproduction of aluminum in China, which is causing exports of semi-finished aluminum to skyrocket.

Japan, Russia and Canada have joined the U.S. in seeking consultations with the Chinese in an effort to end their overproduction of aluminum. The European Union (EU) is also supportive. However, China challenged both the U.S. and EU non-market economy dumping methodologies at the World Trade Organization.

The DOC continues to hold fast its decision that curtainwall extrusions, unitized or not, are covered by our scope of orders, said Henderson. “If they win, the curtainwall industry will be wiped out,” he said. “We believe there will be two more court cases, at least, but the law is on our side.”

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