US Aluminum Producers Step Up Calls for China Policy Probe Getty Images

US Aluminum Producers Step Up Calls for China Policy Probe

Primary aluminum production in the U.S. faces the possibility of having to shutter if prices fall below $1,528 a metric ton, according to Austin, Texas-based researcher Harbor Intelligence. 

U.S. aluminum makers are calling for a “meaningful dialogue” with Chinese authorities in a bid to end incentives and subsidies that they say are fueling a global glut and squeezing U.S. producers out of the market.

The Aluminum Association is pressing for a deeper investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission into Chinese policies to save what’s left of the domestic industry, Heidi Brock and Garney Scott, the group’s chief executive officer and chairman, respectively, said in Washington on Wednesday. They will give testimony Thursday at a Commission hearing.

Primary aluminum production in the U.S. faces the possibility of having to shutter if prices fall below $1,528 a metric ton, according to Austin, Texas-based researcher Harbor Intelligence. Aluminum for delivery in three months settled at $1,665 on Wednesday, down about 40 percent from a 2011 high. Alcoa Inc., an iconic American producer for more than a century, has closed smelters in the U.S. and plans to split itself in two.

The U.S. association said there’s evidence that some surplus metal enters the U.S. through transshipment and re-labeling of aluminum products in third countries to circumvent anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

“We’ve not taken anything off the table,” Brock told reporters when asked if producers would consider countervailing or anti-dumping cases.

For now, however, the association is looking to the U.S. government to bring China to the table and continues to work “to have open dialogue with our Chinese colleagues as well as our colleagues around the world,” Brock said.

Allegations of aluminum transshipping are “groundless, distorting facts,” China Nonferrous Metals Fabrication Industry Association said in a statement posted on the website of parent group China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.

Last month, Cleveland-based aluminum-products maker Aleris Corp. agreed to be bought by Zhongwang USA, which is majority owned by China Zhongwang Holdings founder Liu Zhongtian. Sean Stack, chief executive officer of Aleris, said in an interview that the company doesn’t anticipate any regulatory hurdles in getting the deal approved.

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