Europe’s aluminium consumer group has called on European Commission President Romano Prodi to suspend the European Union’s (EU) six per cent import duty on primary aluminium imports, it revealed yesterday.
The duty is levied on imports of primary aluminium into the EU. Moves by the 12 member states to amend the duty — which is intended to protect European aluminium producers — have been consistently opposed by France.
“The situation is becoming critical for thousands of EU independent transformers of aluminium,” the Federation of Aluminium Consumers in Europe (FACE ) said.
Roger Bertozzi, EU/WTO affairs spokesman at FACE, said the only solution would be for the duty to either be suspended or reduced to zero. Legal action against France has been mooted, but this is a last resort.
“We are still considering it (legal action), but it is on hold. It is difficult, and confrontation is not the best policy,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the exhibition.
“The Commission has two months to act (to the letter), but usually they respond much quicker,” Bertozzi said.
FACE represents 40 independent consumers across the EU, whose annual offtake totals one million tonnes of primary metal. It blames the duty for lost revenues amounting to hundreds of millions of euros each year.
It says the duty distorts competition and penalises non-integrated manufacturers. “High prices are hurting consumers, as the duty increases raw material costs in the EU above those in the US and Japan,” it said.
On the London Metal Exchange (LME), three months metal hit an 8-1/2 year high of $1,845.00 this week. There is a also a shortage of scrap to recover.
“EU independent aluminium transformers are squeezed between the disappearance of scrap and the fact that the duty discourages potential suppliers in dutiable countries from selling metal into Europe,” it said.
Bertozzi said that FACE has lost four members over the past year because of the duty — two were taken over by integrated firms and two went out of business.
Source: Gulf News/Reuters
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