NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. aluminum industry body has called on federal authorities to investigate allegations that Chinese producers of the metal are improperly labeling their exports, flooding the market and driving down global prices.
U.S. aluminum producers have alleged that the Chinese have mislabeled exports as semi-fabricated aluminum in order to evade an export tax on primary aluminum. These products, the U.S. producers say, are often re-melted into primary aluminum further along in the supply chain.
The complaint by the Aluminum Association was sent in a letter dated Sept 4 to a unit of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Aluminum Association Vice President for Policy Charles Johnson asked Interagency Trade Enforcement Center Director Bradford Ward to look into allegations that the misclassification allowed Chinese exporters to circumvent U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duties.
“Such actions create an unlevel playing field for aluminum producers in North America and around the world, and lead to distortions in the marketplace that have ripple effects across the entire industry,” Johnson wrote.
The letter marks the body’s strongest official condemnation yet of China’s exports to the United States, which have contributed to a decline in the U.S. Midwest premium, paid on top of the futures price on the London Metal Exchange for physical delivery, of 70 percent so far this year.
China’s exports have angered producers like Alcoa Inc, whose chief executive has publicly criticized so-called “fake-semis “
Century Aluminum announced plans to idle its Hawesville, Kentucky smelter last month, a move its chief executive blamed on “the improper export of heavily subsidized Chinese aluminum products.”
Reporting By Luc Cohen; Editing by David Gregorio