|22 Apr 2016||Termination|
|18 Apr 2016||Initiation|
ANNOUNCED AS TEMPORARYNo
On April 18, 2016 the United Steelworkers (USW) filed a petition under the U.S. global safeguards law (section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended) seeking the imposition of restrictions on imports of primary, unwrought aluminum. Four days later, the USW suspended its petitionand expressed the hope that the issue could be handled through consultations between governments.
Under this law, the president may impose tariffs or quotas on imports that are found to be causing serious industry to a U.S. industry. He may do so only if the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) finds that rising imports are a substantial cause of the injury.
The petition states that the majority of the aluminum currently being imported into the U.S. market comes from Canada, the Middle East, Russia, and Venezuela.
It is notable that this is the first petition to be filed under the U.S. global safeguards law since 2001. The United States, like all other developed countries, was dissuaded from using this form of import relief after it became clear in the early years of the World Trade Organization that WTO dispute-settlement panels consistently found against the invocation of the safeguards clause. Legal experts generally concur that it is now nearly impossible for a country to impose safeguards restrictions in a way that will survive legal review in the Dispute Settlement Body.
The filing of the petition is nevertheless consistent with an even older tradition by which this law used to be most frequently invoked during presidential election years, with the petitioners hoping that incumbents or other presidential candidates would feel pressure to come out in favor of import restrictions. The filing of this petition comes shortly after the Ways and Means Committee (i.e., the committee with jurisdiction over trade policy) requested that the USITC conduct a fact-finding investigation into competitive conditions affecting the U.S. aluminum industry. The USITC expects to deliver the report to the Ways and Means Committee by June 24, 2017.
On April 22, 2016, the USW declared that it had "decided to suspend our petition seeking action to restore competitive prices in the U.S. and global primary unwrought aluminum markets." The USW acknowledged that "'m'any in the industry refused to support the case," but also said that "U.S. and Canadian officials recognize the serious threats facing our industries and have been engaged in meaningful discussions at the most senior levels. We are hopeful that this engagement will provide the necessary resolution needed for a long-term solution."
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