Aluminum Extruders Council investigates unfair trade practices on Chinese imports
Dumping and subsidies price out North American companies
With near-unanimous backing from its membership, the Aluminum Extruders Council of Wauconda, Ill., completed an investigation of Chinese aluminum extrusion imports to identify whether Chinese companies are using unfair trade practices.
The association—along with its outside council from the United States and Canada—analyzed three points in the investigation: whether Chinese importers are breaking anti-dumping laws; whether they’re violating anti-subsidy laws; and whether U.S. extruders are negatively affected by it, says Rand Baldwin, AEC president.
According to U.S. trade laws, dumping is defined as an importer selling goods below cost to crowd others out of the market. “Once everyone else is out of the market, they can re-raise prices and make a profit,” Baldwin says. Subsidies affect trade when a company sells its product for less than the market price because it’s receiving substantial aid from its government, he says.
“There is no question that Chinese imports are being sold in the United States at unfairly low prices,” said Stephen Jones, AEC counsel and partner at King and Spalding in Washington, D.C., in an AEC Aug. 8 release. “The data gathered [during the investigation] provides substantial evidence that imports of aluminum extrusions from China are being dumped and are benefiting from counter-available subsidies.”
“Anecdotally, we saw a shifting of demand,” Baldwin says. “The reason was price. Prices were enormously cheaper from China.” North American extruders have lost about 5 percent of the market to Chinese competitors since the companies entered the market during the past five to 10 years, according to the AEC survey of extruders in Canada and the United States.
While the effect of market loss due to lower competition prices seems minimal, the long-term results could be devastating to North American extruders.
Baldwin compared it to the aluminum industries of other countries that drastically depleted in the face of Chinese competitors. “Japan used to have a burgeoning aluminum market; now, it’s almost gone. Australia, it’s the same thing. They’re down to one company,” Baldwin says. “Project that, and it’s not hard to imagine what might happen in the North American market.”
End-use aluminum extruder customers such as window and curtain wall suppliers probably haven’t yet been affected by the entrance of Chinese extruders into the market. However, long-term effects of persisting unfair trade would hit customers and the country as a whole. “A country that loses its ability to create its own infrastructure carries a lot of risks,” Baldwin says.
AEC will not move forward to create a petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce against the identified trade problems because it’s an international organization with members in China and the United States. The findings from the council’s investigation will provide North American industry members with ammunition to bring a case themselves, Baldwin says.
The petition could lead to relief for North American companies, Jones said. “A successful anti-dumping, counter-availing duty petition and the imposition of anti-dumping, counter-availing duty orders would impose substantial duties on these imports,” Jones said.
No aluminum extruders contacted were willing to comment on the investigation or whether action will be taken.
—By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter Editor, e-glass weekly