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Fair Trade: August 2012 Update

Fair Trade - August 2012

China Tariffs: Where Would We Be Without Them?

Four years ago, as extruded aluminum profiles from China began flooding into the United States and Canada, AEC launched an effort to determine whether these imports were being traded fair. The resulting study showed clear evidence of dumping and unfair government subsidies. Members in both countries successfully organized to maintain free and fair markets via a series of protective tariffs that returned the playing field to level.

With crystal clarity, this chart shows the effect of this bold and decisive action in the U.S. By the end of 2009, a recession year, imports were rising at an alarming pace. In 2009:Q4, China imports accounted for nearly one-fifth of the entire U.S. market. If nothing had been done, the future of the entire domestic industry hung in the balance.

Fortunately, a few key industry leaders acted with courage and foresight. The AEC members' petition was filed in early 2010, resulting in a preliminary duty in late August. The decline in underpriced imports was immediate and dramatic. Similar results were achieved in Canada within nearly the same period of time. It is not an exaggeration to assert that the action of AEC and its member companies - you! - saved the industry from a severe and unrecoverable fate.

Are We All Done?
This victory for fair trade required a lot of energy, time and financial resources. Clearly, the investment made has been well worth it. Now, however, comes the cold splash of reality that the industry must continue to support these hard-won duties. We are not done, not by a long shot.

By Board decree, AEC assumed formal responsibility as the voice of the industry regarding the U.S. tariffs last summer. That allowed the Council to be the method by which "defense funds" were raised. As you know, the Council asked every member to take an active part via a three-year assessment on top of your annual member dues. Year 1 went extremely well, with a higher-than-expected renewal rate of 87% across all members. In addition, a half dozen new members have joined the ranks, with more coming in on a regular basis. This level of commitment will be important going forward, as challenges to the tariffs remain intense, instead of lessening as was hoped and expected.

Nonetheless, the evidence is plain for all to see. The aluminum extrusion industry in North America is in far better shape today than it would have been without the AEC and its members. Together, we have achieved a bit of history, while saving hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs.

Download a .pdf version of this update here