US President Donald Trump orders investigation into aluminum imports. (Reuters)
The US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order asking his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate the impact of import on aluminium on American national security given that it is significantly used in critical defence industry manufacturing.”The American aluminium industry has been severely damaged by unfair foreign trade. Cheap subsidised foreign imports have flooded into the market, destroying thousands of great American jobs, jobs that are no longer,” Trump said at the executive order signing ceremony yesterday. “Today I’m calling on Secretary Ross to prioritise the investigation he initiated yesterday into whether foreign aluminium imports are jeopardising our national security, and to submit a report setting forth his findings,” he said.
“Based on those findings, Secretary Ross will make formal recommendations to the White House for what to do about the problem, and whether or not we do tariffs or taxes or something else to get our aluminium business going again,” Trump said.
“We cannot afford in these dangerous times to become dependent on foreign nations for the aluminium that our military relies on,” said the US President. “You look at our ships, I went to see some of the ships last week, and so much of that is aluminium-based, and much of that aluminium comes from foreign countries, which is absolutely insane,” he said.
“Today, we’re sending another clear signal to the world: we will fight for American jobs for American workers, and we will fight always for the American dream of bringing it back…,” Trump said. In a statement, the White House said while American manufacturing of aluminium suffers and shuts down, foreign imports continue to pour into the country.
In 2016, aluminium imports into the United States increased by 18 per cent while American production fell by 47 per cent. Of the eight aluminium smelters based in the United States at the beginning of 2016, seven have either shutdown, reduced production, or are idled, it said.
From 2012 to 2015, imports of semi-fabricated aluminium from China grew by 183 per cent, the White House said. “Imports of aluminium foil from China have grown from zero per cent of the United States market in 2004 to 22 per cent today. Employment in the aluminium industry fell by nearly 13 percent from 2015 to 2016,” it said. The White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, said the American aluminium industry is in trouble.
“Having declined down to the lowest levels of aluminium that we’ve produced since 1952. It is critical for our national defences — the Army ground vehicles and the Air Force jets, the Navy warships,” he told reporters at his daily news conference. “But American companies are producing less aluminium than before, especially in the high-purity aluminium that’s used to build things like the F-35, the F-18, and the C-17s,” he said.