ORLANDO, Fla. Domestic
aluminum extruders might have won a landmark trade case against
imported aluminum extrusions from China, but that doesnt
mean the battle against imports is over as the domestic
industry continues to fight both legal challenges to the duties
and illegal attempts to circumvent them, members of the
Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) said.
Hefty anti-dumping tariffs
imposed on imports of aluminum extrusions from China in 2011
helped save the domestic extrusion industry, Duncan Crowdis,
president of Bonnell Aluminum Inc. and outgoing chairman of the
AEC, said. But there has also been a "massive reaction" against
those duties, he added.
"We may have been a bit of a
victim of our own success," Crowdis said March 16 during a town
hall meeting at the AECs annual meeting and leadership
conference in Orlando, Fla.
U.S. aluminum extruders and the
United Steelworkers union in 2010 filed anti-dumping and
countervailing duty petitions with the U.S. Commerce Department
and the International Trade Commission (ITC), asking for relief
against what it said were unfairly traded imports from China
amm.com, March 31, 2010). The ITC in 2011
determined that dumped and subsidized imports from China were,
in fact, causing injury to the domestic industry (
amm.com, April 28, 2011), and duties were
implemented soon after. But the scope of those duties has
since been challenged (
amm.com, Nov. 28).
An administrative review
currently under way could see the countervailing duties
reduced, Crowdis said. But the AEC has no regrets about having
brought the case, he said.
"While every extruder
wasnt going to go out of business, it would have been the
demise of the industry as we know it (had no duties been
implemented)," Crowdis said, noting that imports of aluminum
extrusions from China were surging at the same time that the
United States was struggling to recover from the financial
The AEC was advised that winning
a case on extrusions alone wouldnt be enough, so it
sought to broaden the scope of the case to include fabricated
products, Crowdis said. "We didnt want any extrusions
coming in with a hole punched in it and someone saying it was a
fabricated product and so its not covered," he said.
The AEC knew that after winning
the case, it was going to have to contend with appeals, scope
clarifications and other challenges that the group assumed
would taper off over time, Crowdis said. But instead, the AEC
learned from Commerce that it had received the "broadest and
most complex scope orders" that Commerce had ever handed out,
That breadth has protected the
domestic extrusion industry, but has also invited more
challenges than expected, Crowdis said.
"These scope requests really go
on forever," Crowdis said, noting that the AEC will likely have
to pay $1 million a year to continue its battle to keep
existing duties in place. If the group doesnt, the
situation of domestic extruders "will very quickly fall back to
what we saw in 2009," he warned.
Another issue confronting the
domestic extrusion industry are illegal efforts to circumvent
duties, especially with product transshipped from China through
Southeast Asian nations, Crowdis said. "We dont
necessarily trust the (import) statistics entirely. We know
there is some cheating going on in terms of circumventing," he
The AEC is working with U.S.
Customs and Border Protection on those cases and hopes to make
them public if they are successfully prosecuted, Crowdis said.
"Its not a matter of retroactively getting duties
charged; its jail time. And we want to hang someone up by
the heels so that ... people realize that if they (circumvent
duties) they are going to get caught and they will probably
lose their business," he said.
Circumvention attempts are often
brazen, Crowdis said, pointing to a case where product was
tagged with labels indicating it was made in China. Those
labels werent removed, but were simply covered up with
others that said it originated in Malaysia, he said.
"A lot of us receive e-mails
from brokers that say, Hey, we can get around this. We
can just ship through Malaysia, " Crowdis said.
"They send them to me, for Gods sake."