ARLINGTON, VA – Aluminum Association president & CEO Heidi Brock called today on the Trump administration to provide quota-free exemptions on aluminum tariffs for Canada and Mexico as negotiations are concluded on a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, Brock encouraged the administration to “use this negotiation process to address any national security questions specific to Canada and Mexico raised in the Commerce Department’s Section 232 report.”
The letter continues: “A successful negotiation for a modernized NAFTA should resolve these concerns, and I encourage you to recommend that President Trump provide a full exemption – without quotas – for aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico.”
In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross echoed this sentiment, saying, “Our objective is to have them revitalize NAFTA, a NAFTA that helps America. And as part of that, the 232s would logically go away, both as it relates to Canada and as to Mexico.”
The U.S. aluminum industry generates nearly $71 billion in direct economic output and directly employs more than 162,000 workers. Aluminum industry jobs have grown 3.5% since 2013 despite global trade challenges and a significant drop in employment in primary aluminum smelting. Additionally, the industry has announced more than $2.6 billion in investments and expansions in recent years. Importantly, the U.S. industry is in a deficit market and relies on imported aluminum to meet record demand for the metal – which hit a historic high in 2017. Tariffs on aluminum from critical trading partners threaten continued growth and investment for the industry. Quotas would do the same, with potentially more harmful results.
The association’s letter also expresses support for a “modernized, trilateral NAFTA that includes both Canada and Mexico” noting that “integrated North American supply chains are one reason that we have been able to meet growing demand year over year.” Brock concluded, “We hope that your negotiations to modernize NAFTA will strengthen and expand opportunities under the agreement for the aluminum industry and our broad range of customers. We appreciate the Administration’s continued efforts to advance free, fair and reciprocal trade across the globe.”
The Aluminum Association continues to support quota-free Section 232 tariff exemptions for all countries designated by the Commerce Department as market economies. The association believes that a negotiated, government-to-government agreement with China on overcapacity is the best way to meet the shared objective of a healthy and vibrant aluminum sector in the United States. To learn more, please visit www.aluminum.org/TimeforAction.