US finds China aluminium foil imports dumped, subsidised

An employee looking at an aluminium foil roll being lifted at a plant in Binzhou, Shandong province, China, on May 16, 2017.
An employee looking at an aluminium foil roll being lifted at a plant in Binzhou, Shandong province, China, on May 16, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The US Commerce Department said on Tuesday (Feb 27) it had made a final determination that imports of aluminium foil from China are being sold in the United States at less than their fair value and producers are benefiting from subsidies from Beijing.

It said in a statement that anti-dumping and countervailing duties would be levied on a number of Chinese firms, with dumping margins ranging from 48.64 per cent to 106.09 per cent and anti-subsidy rates of 17.14 per cent to 80.97 per cent.

“This Administration is committed to trade that is fair and reciprocal, and we will not allow American workers and businesses to be harmed by unfair imports,” the statement quoted Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross as saying. 

China has expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the step and will take necessary measures to protect its legal rights and interests in the matter, the country’s Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) said in a statement. 

“The US has disregarded the WTO rules and seriously damaged the interests of China’s aluminium foil exporters,” Wang Hejun, the head of Mofcom's Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, said in the statement. 

The US Commerce Department has made the wrong decision in levying high duties “without any evidence” and has “unreasonably and excessively” adopted trade remedy measures, Wang said.

The duties, which would take effect for five years, remain subject to a finding of injury to US producers by the International Trade Commission (ITC), which is due to announce its decision by March 15.

Amid mounting trade friction with China, US President Donald Trump is due to decide soon whether to impose much broader duties on steel and aluminium imports under a national security investigation.

Three of Trump’s top economic aides are expected meet Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, Liu He, this week, the White House said on Tuesday.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday the aide would discuss “China-US relations and the two countries’ economic and trade cooperation”.

The Commerce Department said the foil case, the first the US aluminium industry has brought against China’s aluminium sector, would have no bearing on the “Section 232” report on aluminium that is under consideration by Trump. 

In 2016, imports of aluminium foil from China were valued at an estimated US$389 million (S$513 million), Commerce Department figures show. 

FOIL PRODUCERS

Last month, a group of US aluminium foil producers told the ITC their industry had been devastated by Chinese imports and needed anti-dumping duties to survive and invest. 

“The Aluminium Association and its foil-producing members are extremely pleased with the Commerce Department’s final determinations,” the group’s president, Heidi Brock, said in the statement. 

“US aluminium foil producers are among the most competitive producers in the world, but they cannot compete against products that are sold at unfairly low prices and subsidised by the Government of China,” Brock said.

The Commerce Department said anti-dumping margins will be set at 48.64 per cent for Jiangsu Zhongji Lamination Materials Stock Co Ltd, at 106.09 per cent for Hangzhou Dingsheng Import & Export and related companies, 89.54 per cent for 14 other companies and 106.09 per cent for the rest of producers in China. 

Countervailing duty margins will be 17.14 per cent for Jiangsu Zhongji, 19.98 per cent for Dingsheng, 80.97 per cent for Loften Aluminium (Hong Kong), Manakin Industries LLC and Suzhou Manakin Aluminium Processing Technology, and 18.56 per cent for all other producers in China, it said.