The Commerce Department launched an investigation on Wednesday to determine whether a flood of aluminum imports from China and elsewhere was compromising U.S. national security, a step that could lead to broad import restrictions on the lightweight metal.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the investigation is similar to one announced last week for steel imports into the U.S., invoking Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
“Here’s why we did it,” Ross told reporters, “Imports have been flooding into the aluminum industry and the defense angle is that high-purity aluminum is used in the F-35” as well as other military aircraft and vehicles. In the event of a war, domestic manufacturers might be unable to meet the Pentagon’s needs, Ross said.
The investigation mirrors a probe Commerce launched a week earlier focusing on the steel industry, also invoking section 232 of the act. North American aluminum trade groups have been pushing for such action for the last five years.