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US considering 200pc tariff on Russian aluminium, says official

The United States is considering raising the import tariff on Russian-made aluminium to 200 per cent, as it seeks to ramp up pressure on Moscow over its war in Ukraine, but a decision has not been made yet, a US official said yesterday.

“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 per cent tariff on Russian-produced aluminium 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 US 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 aluminium in response to Moscow’s military escalation in Ukraine.

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

Spokespersons for the US Trade Representative’s office and the US 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 aluminium comes as prices for the widely-used metal have fallen from record levels last year, helping to ease inflation. London Metal Exchange three-month aluminium prices reached a record of over US$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 US$2,441 to US$2,500 per tonne this week.

The United States is also far less dependent on Russian aluminium 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 US Census Bureau data. Russian aluminium now makes up only 3 per cent of US imports.

In 2018, the United States imposed a 10 per cent tariff on global aluminium imports on national security grounds aimed at reviving US 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 US aluminium imports.

Russian output is also subject to some product-specific anti-dumping tariffs, including a62.2 per cent tariff on imports of Russian aluminium foil.

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