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August 10, 2020

President Trump Reinstates Aluminum Tariffs On Canadian Products

On Thursday, August 8, President Donald Trump reinstituted 10 percent tariffs on some Canadian aluminum products. The president said he was trying to protect the United States from a “surge” in imports from the United States’ northern neighbor. The new penalties, which apply to non-alloyed unwrought aluminum, will take effect August 16, 2020.

Click here to read the White House’s proclamation.

The Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) has opposed Section 232 penalties on products from Canada since the very start of the Trump administration’s deliberations on the issue. (Click here to see MSCI’s original testimony on the administration’s Section 232 aluminum investigation.)

Regarding last week’s decision, MSCI President and CEO M. Robert Weidner III said, “This decision is disappointing. From the start of the administration’s Section 232 investigations we have urged both Canada and the United States to keep their focus on the real source of oversupply: China. North American trading partners have strong relationships that provide good jobs on both sides of the border. We’d like to see the White House reconsider this action.”

According to U.S. Census Bureau data compiled by the Aluminum Association, primary aluminum imports from Canada declined in June 2020, with volumes near or below historical levels.

Additionally, as The Wall Street Journal noted, “Over the past year, total U.S. imports of Canadian aluminum have been little changed at about $200 million a month. But there has been a significant shift in the types of aluminum coming into the U.S. Imports of unalloyed aluminum have climbed rapidly, while alloyed aluminum has dropped. In justifying the tariffs, the U.S. pointed to the surge in unalloyed aluminum.”

At a press conference, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized President Trump’s decision, arguing “a trade dispute is the last thing anyone needs – it will only hurt an economic recovery on both sides of the border.”

As the Toronto Star reported, less than 24 hours after President Trump’s announcement, the Canadian government announced it will now take 30 days to consult with the public on a quickly-released list of American imports it plans to tax in response. The list of impacted products will likely include a range of goods that use aluminum, from household washing machines and refrigerators to bike wheels and golf clubs.

Those penalties are expected to take effect on September 16, 2020.

Click here for a timeline that highlights President Trump’s major actions regarding aluminum tariffs on Canadian imports.