North American aluminium associations call for increased import monitoring

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The Aluminum Association, Instituto Mexicano del Aluminio and the Aluminium Association of Canada have called for continued tariff-free trade, increased import monitoring and stronger trade enforcement in a letter to trade officials in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The letter came ahead of a summit today (15 November) in Mexico City, highlighting the past and future of the North American aluminium trading relationship.

“For decades, our industries have relied on cross-border trade within the North American region to help make some of the highest quality and lowest carbon aluminium and aluminium products in the world. Indeed, Canada and Mexico are the United States’ first and second largest aluminium trading partners, respectively. In 2022, our nations traded more than $47 billion worth of aluminium and aluminium products across the region,” the letter notes.

The North American aluminium industry is calling for several actions ahead of a mandated review of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in 2026:

  • Continued tariff-free trade in North America: The continued tariff-free trade of aluminium within North America is critical to the industries in all three of our countries. The integrated market allows each country to focus on its respective competitive advantages while benefiting from the unique strengths offered by aluminium firms in the other countries. Maintaining Section 232 aluminium tariff exemptions for Canada and Mexico benefit the sector across North America. The filing of a 15-country trade case, which includes Mexico, by a subsection of US aluminium extrusion producers threatens to overshadow the longstanding coordination and partnership between the aluminium industries in the three countries.
  • Increased regional aluminium import monitoring: Under the terms of the agreement removing Section 232 tariffs in favour of the USMCA, each country agreed to “establish an agreed-upon process for monitoring aluminium and steel trade between them.” In subsequent years, both the United States and Canada have stood up new or enhanced aluminium import monitoring programs, but Mexico has not. The industry urges the Mexican government to promptly implement such a program to meet the mutual commitment under the Section 232 exemption joint letter.
  • Strengthened regional trade enforcement: Across the region, it is essential that we work to combat the unfair and illegal trade of aluminium, which has challenged the global industry in recent years. Both the United States and Mexico were the victims of a significant aluminium transshipment scheme in the mid-2010s in which massive volumes of Chinese aluminium billet was disguised as a different product to avoid hundreds of millions in tariffs. Both the United States and Mexico have pursued successful antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) cases against unfairly traded Chinese aluminium over the past several years. Continued vigilance and enforcement of global trade laws in the sector is needed.
  • Full support of the aluminium sustainability agenda: Governments must continue to support industry in its pursuit of decarbonisation efforts and the broader aluminium sustainability agenda. This support may include research for next generation production techniques and increased recycling efforts. Aluminium produced in North America is some of the cleanest in the world, with carbon emissions for an average pound of aluminium made in the region declining more than 50% since 1991. Aluminium is vital to the green energy transition in transportation, construction, packaging and more.

In 2019, the aluminium associations of North America jointly supported the removal of Section 232 tariffs on aluminium imports within the region. These tariffs were removed in favor of the USMCA, which was formally implemented in 2020. The agreement is subject to a mandatory six-year review for potential renewal in 2026. The early stages of this review will begin as early as next year.

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