CRU aluminum: Trade actions continue to pile up

Written by Matthew Abrams

US announces new import duties on aluminum extrusions

The US Department of Commerce has placed preliminary antidumping (AD) duties of 2-600% on imports of aluminum extrusions from 14 countries.

The rates are:

  • China: 4.91-376.85%
  • Colombia: 8.85-34.47%
  • Ecuador: 17.23-51.2%
  • India: 3.44-39.05%
  • Indonesia: 5.66-112.21%
  • Italy: 15.3-41.67%
  • South Korea: 2.42%
  • Malaysia: 26.7-27.51%
  • Mexico: 9.18-82.03%
  • Taiwan (China): 33.93-57.86%
  • Thailand: 2.02-4.04%
  • Turkey: 45.44-602.72%
  • UAE: 9.13-42.29%
  • Vietnam: 2.85-41.84%

“[The findings] show just how widespread dumping practices are globally and highlight the importance of strongly enforcing the antidumping laws to shield US businesses and workers from the devastating effects of unfair trade,” said Robert DeFrancesco, counsel for the petitioners in the case, the US Aluminum Extruders Coalition and the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

“We are encouraged by the preliminary affirmative findings and will continue to work with the Commerce Department to ensure that for its final determination, the margins properly reflect the full amount of dumping taking place by the foreign producers,” he added.

For imports from four of the countries, the AD levies will be added to the countervailing duty (CVD) tariffs announced in early March. Those levies are:

  • China: 15.41-169.66%
  • Indonesia: 6.69-43.56%
  • Mexico: 1.68-77.8%
  • Turkey: 1.45-147.53%

Mexico announces new tariffs on host of products including aluminum

The Mexican government followed President Biden’s call for higher tariffs through Section 301 by announcing its own tariffs on multiple aluminum products. The tariffs will affect primary trade into the country as well as VAPs, with can sheet being the largest end-use market left off the list. There was also a promise to increase the tracking and traceability of source material, which relates directly to the US tariff on Russian aluminum and all derivative products containing Russian aluminum. Multiple exclusion programs, such as IMMEX, PROSEC, and free trade agreements, are still in place. This combines with numerous other trade actions, making it difficult to detangle and analyze the final outcome.

Century looks forward to strong first half of 2024

After an “excellent” operational and safety performance across Century Aluminum’s smelters in Q1, the company is well-positioned to benefit from better market conditions this quarter, according to president and CEO Jesse Gary, who referred to prices rising significantly during April on the back of improving global demand.

Century’s Q1 adjusted EBITDA was $25 million. The Chicago-based aluminum producer predicts adjusted EBITDA will be $25-35 million this quarter thanks to higher London Metal Exchange (LME) prices and regional premiums. However, the expected gains will be partially offset by power curtailments imposed on the Grundartangi smelter in Iceland, the company noted.

The commentary accompanied Century reporting Q1 sales revenue of $481 million, down 4.5% from the previous quarter, primarily due to lower regional and value-added product premiums. Shipments were little changed at 174,600 metric tons.

However, net income soared from $30 million to $247 million, chiefly thanks to a $246 million bargain purchase gain from last year’s acquisition of the Jamalco alumina refinery in Jamaica. There were, nonetheless, $4.7 million of equipment failure costs at the plant in Q1.

Business developments in the past quarter included the US Department of Energy agreeing to give Century $500 million to construct a new green aluminum smelter, which the company expects to build within the Ohio and Mississippi River basins.

Century Aluminum also announced a planned joint venture with MX Holdings to build a low-carbon secondary billet casthouse. US-based MX Holdings specializes in purchasing, processing and manufacturing aluminum.

Metal Exchange and EGA America to wind down US agency arrangement

Metal Exchange, a subsidiary of MX Holdings, and EGA America will conclude their agency arrangement effective June 1, 2024, after 25+ years of partnership.

“Over the last several decades, we are proud to have built a long-standing and effective relationship with EGA America. As our agency arrangement concludes, we look forward to their continued success” said Matt Rohm, CEO of MX Holdings. “Concurrently, Metal Exchange is excited to pursue new supply chain management opportunities and relationships.”

Jake Skelton, CEO of EGA America, said: “As the aluminum industry continues to evolve, so has our business. In partnership with Metal Exchange, EGA America has become one of the most important suppliers of aluminum billet, primary foundry alloy, purity, and slab in the North American market.”

Metal Exchange provides supply chain management solutions to customers around the world. This includes aluminum purchasing, processing, marketing and logistics. In addition to its headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., MX Holdings has 12 additional offices and manufacturing facilities around the world.

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