U.S. considering 200% tariff on Russian aluminum, official says

By Steve Holland

(Reuters) -The United States is considering raising the import tariff on Russian-made aluminum to 200%, as it seeks to ramp up pressure on Moscow over its war in Ukraine, but a decision has not been made yet, a U.S. official said on Monday.

“It’s something we are considering,” the official said, adding an announcement about any tariff increase was not expected this week.

The official’s comments came after Bloomberg News that an announcement of a 200% tariff on Russian-produced aluminum could be made as early as this week.

The Russian metal has also been targeted by the United States after being dumped by Moscow on the U.S. market below cost, harming American companies, the report said, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

Reuters reported last October that the Biden administration was weighing restrictions on imports of Russian aluminum in response to Moscow’s military escalation in Ukraine.

The White House declined to comment on potential new tariffs or other restrictions on Russian aluminum.

Spokespersons for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and the U.S. Commerce Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It was unclear under what authority the Biden administration would impose higher tariffs. The Commerce Department has jurisdiction over anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties, but these require investigations that typically take months.

PRICES SUBSIDE

Consideration of higher tariffs on Russian aluminum comes as prices for the widely-used metal have fallen from record levels last year, helping to ease inflation. London Metal Exchange three-month aluminum prices reached a record of over $4,073 per tonne in March 2022, the month following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

They have fallen dramatically since then, to a likely range of about $2,441 to $2,500 per tonne this week.

The United States is also far less dependent on Russian aluminum than it was five years ago, with imports falling to 443 million pounds in the past year from 1.65 million pounds in 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Russian aluminum now makes up only 3% of U.S. imports.

In 2018, the United States imposed a 10% tariff on global aluminum imports on national security grounds aimed at reviving U.S. production. Those tariffs apply to Russian output but not to some other countries that have negotiated quota and safeguard agreements with Washington, including Canada, which now supplies roughly half of U.S. aluminum imports.

Russian output is also subject to some product-specific anti-dumping tariffs, including a 62.2% tariff on imports of Russian aluminum foil.

(Reporting by David LawderEditing by Marguerita Choy)

tagreuters.com2023binary_LYNXMPEJ150P1-VIEWIMAGE