The six-percent duty levied on imports of unwrought aluminium into the EU is under the spotlight. The failure of the WTO to table it at Cancun, the prospect of EU enlargement and the takeover of Pechiney, signal the need for a speedy resolution, writes Sandra Buchanan.
Although production in the EU has been rising gradually for many years, consumption has risen faster (see chart), and after EU enlargement in May, the region will gain an extra 0.3m tpy of capacity, but an extra 0.5m tpy of consumption.
The failure to discuss aluminium tariffs at the WTO’s Cancun meeting has focused minds. The European Aluminium Assn (EAA), the Federation of Aluminium Consumers in Europe (Face), the European Commission and all the EU governments, producers and downstream operators are wondering whether the WTO Doha round – originally due to be concluded by the end of this year – can be revived.
In the meantime, equally viable and valuable industries within the EU are pitted against each other. Roughly split, the argument is between primary and secondary aluminium producers who, historically, favour the tariff, and independent consumer-fabricators – including Face members – who do not.
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