USA Cites National Security Concerns

Chinese officials claim that Imported aluminum products do not impair U.S. national security or the American economy.

“U.S. national security requirements for aluminum are entirely and safely supplied by U.S. domestic enterprises,” Li Xie, director of export division one at China’s Ministry of Commerce, said at a public hearing on the national security implications of U.S. aluminum imports at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The amount of aluminum required by national defense is small, accounting for less than 2% of  total U.S. domestic consumption of aluminum,” he said.

The Trump administration in April launched the so-called Section 232 investigations into imported aluminum products, a rarely-used trade tool to limit imports on the grounds of protecting national security, which could lead to legal challenges at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Li said the WTO legal framework does not permit members to impose restrictive trade measures through the abusive invocation of a “national security” exception.  “Many members and interested parties have raised serious concerns that trade restrictions in this case may trigger similar applications by other members,” he warned.

“We hope the U.S. Department of Commerce will carry on this investigation cautiously and fairly and refrain from taking unilateral restrictive measures on imported aluminum products,” Li said, urging the U.S. government to conduct this proceeding “in a balanced and transparent manner.”

Correspondence to the U.S. Commerce Department by China Non-Ferrous Metals Industry Association (CNIA) said aluminum products exported from China to the USA “have not endangered U.S. national security in any respect.”

Aluminum products from China imported into the USA are mostly medium-end products with civilian applications, while aluminum products imported into China from the U.S. are mostly high value-added thick plates which are used in automobile and airplane structural components, according to CNIA.

“Aluminum products from China and U.S. made aluminum products are highly complementary,” CNIA noted, adding China’s aluminum industry is critical to stimulating global economic growth and boosting global aluminum consumption.

In terms of the global overcapacity issue, “the world should not only work together to guide the withdrawal of inefficient production capacity, but also to expand aluminum applications in newly emerging sectors,” CNIA said, opposing the imposition of trade or investment restrictions on the grounds of national security.

“The CNIA is willing to work together with aluminum industries in other countries to strengthen cooperation, remove barriers and further push the development of global aluminum industry to benefit humanity,” it added.