On June 22, 2017, FPA President and CEO, Alison Keane, Esq., provided testimony at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s public hearing for the Section 232 investigation on the effect of aluminum imports on U.S. national security.

The Section 232 investigation, initiated under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, seeks to determine what, if any, effects imports of aluminum have on national security. FPA is not aware of any impacts aluminum foil imports for use in the packaging industry has on U.S. national security. FPA supports efforts to protect domestic manufacturing and ensure national security, however, any such efforts must consider the impact and consequences on all U.S. manufacturing industries. Accordingly, the scope of these actions must be limited to addressing the specific objectives. Aluminum foil imports necessary for the packaging industry, and without application for national defense, should be excluded from consideration.

A Section 232 investigation is an obscure law that has rarely been invoked since it was enacted. When it has been invoked, a total of 26 times, prior investigations have involved multiple hearings across the United States and has taken the full statutory period to determine what, if any, action should be taken. In fact, most prior investigations under Section 232 have not resulted in action by the President.

FPA is concerned that the aluminum investigation appears to be rushed – with only five minutes allotted to testify at the hearing and only one hearing scheduled. In addition, the time for submission of comments was shortened amid reports that the investigation would not be taking the statutorily allowed 270 days to report to the President, but some faster, undisclosed timeline. FPA believes that the Administration needs to slow down and fairly and accurately investigate whether or not imports of aluminum have any effect on national security. If not, the unintended consequences of any presidential action will most likely be U.S. job loss and higher costs to consumers for everyday goods.

During the investigation, the Administration is to consider a range of factors related to national security, including the economy and the effects of foreign competition on the economic welfare of domestic industries, including impacts on employment. Any import restrictions on aluminum foil will have a significant negative impact on the flexible packaging industry and its employment in the U.S.

The Section 232 investigation is paralleling an International Trade Commission (ITC) investigation of Chinese aluminum foil imports based on a petition from The Aluminum Association, claiming that dumped and subsidized aluminum foil from China is causing or threatening injury to the domestic aluminum foil industry. The ITC petition seeks steep import duties exceeding 140% to be applied to imported Chinese aluminum foil. The unintended consequences of potential remedies under the Section 232 investigation, combined with any imposed actions through the ITC probe on the ability for flexible packaging manufacturers to acquire the aluminum foil necessary to create innovative and functional packaging for food, beverages, candy, and pharmaceuticals, would be a major loss of flexible packaging jobs in the U.S.

FPA shares the same goal as domestic aluminum producers who want more U.S. jobs and understands the importance of U.S. manufacturing to national security. The Administration should find ways to work together to improve our country’s competitiveness. Everybody loses in unfair trade cases, especially the American consumer. The ITC’s preliminary findings make it clear that its case is not going to result in any benefit to U.S. aluminum foil producers and the unintended consequences of including aluminum foil in any Section 232 remedy will be more damaging to the U.S. manufacturing industry and the economy than the benefits sought.

For More Information

For more information on the Section 232 investigation on the effect of aluminum imports on U.S. National Security and the ITC’s Chinese anti-dumping and countervailing duties on aluminum foil petition, please contact FPA at fpa@flexpack.org or 410-694-0800.