Industry News

Aluminum* Has Its Day in the (Compliance) Sun

Mar. 10, 2023
By: David G. Forgue

Back in 2018 when the Section 232 duties were introduced, the primary focus of attention seemed to be on steel. To be sure, there were 232 duties on aluminum products, and for importers of those products the duties mattered. Still, there have been roughly 18,500 requests for 232 exclusions for aluminum products and roughly 292,000 for steel products. It was hard to not feel like steel was the star and aluminum a bit player.

That all started to change in January 2023, when aluminum came into focus as a potential source of products made with forced labor. Now the change is accelerating with Proclamation 10522, which adds additional reporting requirements on aluminum imports, and targets imports that include any Russian aluminum in them.

In specific, the new reporting requirements mandate that starting with imports or withdrawals from FTZs on April 10, 2023, imports of aluminum and aluminum derivatives will be required to list the:

(1) primary (by material weight) country of smelting,

(2) the secondary (by materials weight) country of smelting, and

(3) the country in which the product was cast.

Importantly, if there is any Russian aluminum in the product, Russia must be listed as a country of smelting. Even if Russian material is not one of the two largest volumes of material, it is still to be listed as the secondary country of smelting. These requirements apply to products of all countries, without respect to exclusions, quotas, or any other status of the imports.

The consequence of listing Russia as the country of primary smelting, secondary smelting, or casting will be a 200% duty on the imported product. The proclamation makes clear that this duty will be on the full value of the imported product, rather than proportional to the Russian content. This is in addition to any existing antidumping, countervailing duty, or other duties on the aluminum.

The articles subject to the additional Russia duties are specifically listed in the proclamation but are a familiar list. Customs has succinctly laid them out in Cargo System Messaging Service #55424218 (March 9, 2023). Importantly, the categories are driven by description and classification. This is yet another reason for importers to review their classifications very closely to ensure they are not either undertaking unnecessary reporting requirements, or unlawfully avoiding necessary reporting requirements.

Importers have already seen how difficult it is to assess where “any amount” of material in their supply chain comes from. This has been one of the struggles of forced labor compliance. Implementing such a requirement for a global commodity that is constantly recycled will undoubtedly be an enormous challenge.

If you have any questions about imports of aluminum into the United States do not hesitate to contact any attorney at Barnes, Richardson & Colburn.

* No, I will not be spelling it “aluminium.” This is a story about the U.S. and we will be spelling it like Noah Webster himself would have wanted.