The probe has the potential to impact China’s economy. No wonder they are concerned at the development.
In a significant development with broad implications, the U.S. Commerce Department has launched an investigation to determine whether China and other countries are dumping cheap aluminium in the U.S. and thus compromising U.S. national security.
Wilbur Ross, the U.S. Commerce Secretary stated the investigation is similar to one the Trump Administration started for steel imports into the U.S.
Ross clarified that the probe was prompted by unfair trade imports which have put enormous pressures on the U.S. aluminium industry with some domestic smelters even closing shop or halting their production.
The move has unnerved China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of aluminium which has a policy of producing large quantities and dumping on other countries the products it does not require.
The move is the latest action aimed at stemming the tide of cheap imports which are typically below U.S. market costs and which benefit from unfair subsidies.
Part of the justification for the investigation was the fact that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 joint strike fighter and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet require high-purity aluminium which is produced by only one smelter, Century Aluminium Co.
Although Century Aluminium Co meets U.S. peacetime requirement however if the U.S were to ramp up defence production levels to a conflict zone, the requirement for aluminium would jump.
“At the very same time that our military is needing more and more of the very high-quality aluminium, we’re producing less and less of everything, and only have the one producer of aerospace- quality aluminium,” said Ross in a White House briefing.
The probe will determine to see whether there is sufficient domestic aluminium capacity to meet U.S. defence requirements and will also assess the effects of lost jobs, skills and investments on national security, said Ross.
“This is not a China-phobic program, this has to do with a global problem,” clarified Ross.