The U.S. has reimposed a 10% tariff on non-alloyed unwrought aluminum imported from Canada, citing a substantial increase in imports over the period from June 2019 through May 2020. The tariff will take effect August 16, 2020.
The U.S. originally imposed a 10% tariff on Canadian aluminum in March 2018 as part of Proclamation 9704, using section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. In May 2019, the U.S. government determined that aluminum imports from Canada would no longer threaten to impair national security and the tariff was removed with the stipulation that these imports would be monitored.
According to the White House’s latest proclamation on aluminum imports, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross advised the administration that imports of non-alloyed unwrought aluminum from Canada, which accounted for 59% of total Canadian aluminum imports from June 2019 through May 2020, increased substantially in the 12 months following the administration’s decision to exclude, on a long-term basis, Canada from the tariff proclaimed in Proclamation 9704.
“Imports of non-alloyed unwrought aluminum from Canada during June 2019 through May 2020 increased 87% compared to the prior 12-month period and exceeded the volume of any full calendar year in the previous decade,” said President Donald Trump in the new proclamation. “Moreover, imports of these articles from Canada continue to increase, reaching in June of this year the highest level of any month since I decided to adjust imports of aluminum articles in Proclamation 9704. The increase in imports of these articles from Canada is principally responsible for the 27% increase in total aluminum imports from Canada during June 2019 through May 2020.”
According to the proclamation, Canada is the largest source of U.S. imports of non-alloyed unwrought aluminum, accounting for nearly two-thirds of total imports of these articles from all countries in 2019 and approximately 75% of total imports in the first five months of 2020.
“The surge in imports of these articles from Canada coincides with a decrease in imports of these articles from other countries and threatens to harm domestic aluminum production and capacity utilization,” reads the proclamation.
During a visit to the Whirlpool Corp. manufacturing plant in Clyde, Ohio, Trump said, “Canada was taking advantage of us, as usual, and I signed [the proclamation], and it imposes—because the aluminum business was being decimated by Canada. Very unfair to our jobs and our great aluminum workers. Several months ago, my administration agreed to lift those tariffs in return for a promise from the Canadian government that its aluminum industry would not flood our country with exports and kill all our aluminum jobs, which is exactly what they did. Canadian aluminum producers have broken that commitment, and the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, has advised me that this step to re-impose tariffs is absolutely necessary to defend our aluminum industry.”
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland responded to the tariffs in a statement yesterday, according to an article by CBC.
“Canadian aluminum does not undermine U.S. national security. Canadian aluminum strengthens U.S. national security and has done so for decades through unparalleled co-operation between our two countries,” she said, adding that Canada intends to swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures.