On January 19, the Department of Commerce submitted its Section 232 report to the White House on the national security implications of aluminum imports one business day ahead of its statutory deadline. The president now has 90 days from that date, January 19, to determine whether he agrees with the Commerce Department’s findings or will use his “statutory authority to adjust imports,” according to the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, to devise his own remedy. Commerce’s report was confidential, and Commerce stated that it will publish a summary of the report only after the president announces his decision.
The domestic aluminum industry is in support of any action specifically addressing Chinese overcapacity, said Aluminum Association President and CEO Heidi Brock this past Sunday, January 21. According to an industry source at the recent 2018 Aluminum Symposium, such an action must be carefully measured to ensure that it does not result in increased costs for U.S. consumers and does not create a situation where a key source of supply, like Canada, is affected. China has questioned whether a Section 232 investigation is consistent with U.S. WTO obligations, arguing that the WTO’s legal framework does not permit members to impose trade restrictions through an “abusive invocation” of national security.