U.S. Imported Significantly Less Aluminum from Russia, China

U.S. trade policies and sanctions against Russia have caused significant shifts in the composition of the country’s aluminum imports last year.

After Washington introduced sanctions against Russia’s top aluminum producer Rusal last year, a sharp drop in imports of primary metal from Russia followed. China was hardest hit in the semi-manufactured products (“semis“) segment of the supply chain, with imports from the largest supplier to the U.S. market in the previous three years almost halving in 2018, the news outlet wrote.

Total U.S. imports of primary aluminum fell by 18 percent last year to 4.08 million tons, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It was the lowest import level since 2015 and in part reflects rising American production after the imposition of “Section 232” tariffs of 10% in March last year.

Tariffs have undoubtedly played a part in the drop-off, but product-specific anti-dumping duties and a mutual loosening of supply-chain dependence were likely more powerful drivers, Dawn writes.

In part, though, the slide was due to the pre-emptive movement of metal into the United States in 2017, when imports hit a record 5 million tons. Much of that surge came from Russia, with imports running in excess of 700,000 tons in both 2016 and 2017 before slumping by 51% to 347,000 tons in 2018.

Imports from China, the number one supplier in the 2015-2017 period, crashed by 48% to 325,000 tons, with the drop attributed to U.S. anti-dumping measures against specific products such as foil. Imports of Chinese foil fell 57% last year to 66,900 tons after swingeing duties were imposed on some Chinese companies in February.

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