The UK Trade Remedies Authority announced on Friday, May 20, that new measures should be put in place to “protect the UK’s aluminum extrusion industry” from dumped Chinese products.” The surprise move comes after an 11-month investigation into inconsistencies with aluminum bar imports.
The TRA made the recommendation to the organization’s current Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan. Spurring on the investigation were some of the UK’s few remaining aluminum extruders, particularly Norsk Hydro.
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The Details Behind the Decision
After some initial research, the TRA concluded that imports of Chinese aluminum extrusions were being dumped into the UK at unfair prices. After noting this had caused significant injury to the UK’s own industry, the organization determined that a formal investigation was warranted.
In the meantime, the TRA will put some provisional measures in place. For example, importers will have to provide a bank guarantee to HMRC, the UK tax authority. This will have to cover any duty ultimately applied to imports over the next six months prior to a final determination.
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The measures go into effect on May 28. And while the level of duty is unknown, the original investigation suggested some Chinese manufacturers had been underselling their products at between 7.3% and 29.1%. This is enough to expose importers to potential claims of nearly 1/3 the goods’ value.
Aluminum Bar Imports Remain Necessary
Chinese aluminum bar products currently attract the same 6% duty level as imports from other countries. This is slightly less than the 7.5% duty applied by the EU on imports into the block. Meanwhile, rumors persist among trade buyers that the rule could apply to only those bars above 3.25″ (82.55mm) diameter. If true, this would impact only those commodities on the lower end of the cost spectrum.
While the TRA’s announcement makes no such distinction, there would be some logic in such a size cut-off. This is because UK extruders’ small presses cater to this end of the size range, and there are no domestic UK producers of larger diameter bars. As a result, companies need to import all large diameter product. In this case, additional duties would be self-defeating: protecting no one but damaging a broad consumer base in oil, gas, heavy engineering, and automotive.
Interviews with both UK importers and Chinese manufacturers make it clear this has come as a surprise to many in the industry. They also indicate that the almost-immediate application of the interim measures may do more harm than good. Specifically, it will affect those companies with orders in production or on shipment. After all, they have no means of canceling or mitigating potential costs.
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