Trade Case to Target U.S. Imports of Raw Aluminum
HONG KONG — An American labor union plans to push the United States to impose broad, steep tariffs on aluminum imports using a little-used but wide-ranging trade law that has riled the country’s trading partners in the past.
The effort by the United Steelworkers union comes with trade increasingly an election-year issue in the United States and elsewhere. More than three-quarters of the United States aluminum smelting industry that existed five years ago will have been idled or shut down permanently by this summer as imports have surged, according to the union’s legal petition.
伴随着美国钢铁工人联合会(United Steelworkers union)的这种做法，贸易已日益成为了美国和世界其他地区的选举年话题。根据该工会提交的法律请愿书所述，因为铝进口量激增的缘故，五年前还在美国国内运转的炼铝相关产业中，有超过四分之三将在今年夏季或之前遭到闲置或永久关闭。
The union blames China’s rising exports, though if successful its effort would also affect American imports from Canada and many other countries.
The union and its law firm said that they plan on Monday to file the petition, which covers raw aluminum imports, with an American trade panel. The petition invokes Section 201 of the 1974 Trade Act. The section was last invoked by President George W. Bush in 2001 to start a legal process that led to American tariffs on steel imports the following year.
该工会与其委任律师事务所表示，他们计划在周一向美国一个贸易审查委员会递交这份涵盖了进口铝等事宜的请愿书。该请愿书援引的是1974年的《美国贸易法》(1974 Trade Act)的第201条。这项条款上回被引用是在2001年、美国总统乔治‧W‧布什(George W. Bush)为了在翌年对进口钢铁加收关税，而要推动法律程序的时候。
A Section 201 case covers essentially all imports of a product from all over the world. That makes it more controversial than anti-subsidy and anti-dumping cases against imports from a single country. The European Union objected to President Bush’s use of Section 201, which resulted in American tariffs on a wide range of steel products, until the administration dropped them in late 2003.
But Section 201 cases are also harder to win. They require proof that a domestic industry has been “seriously injured” by imports, a harder test than the mere proof of “injury” from imports that is required for other trade cases.
Terence P. Stewart, the managing partner of the law firm Stewart and Stewart and the lead lawyer on the aluminum case, contended that raw aluminum could meet the test. “The domestic industry is disappearing before our eyes,” he said. ”Quick relief and addressing the underlying imbalance between global supply and demand are essential if we are going to have any industry left.”
斯图尔特与斯图尔特律师事务所(Stewart and Stewart)的执行合伙人泰伦斯‧斯图尔特(Terence P. Stewart)是该请愿案的主要律师，他声称铝进口能够符合该条款所要求的标准。“本土的炼铝业正在大家眼前消失，”斯图尔特表示。“如果我们还想让任何炼铝业者存活下去，尽快解除进口压力、着手处理背后的全球供需失衡问题是当务之急。”
The union also argues that aluminum is important to national defense because it is widely used in military equipment.
Section 201 cases are reviewed by the United States International Trade Commission, a bipartisan, quasi-judicial group of trade experts in Washington. The commission then makes a recommendation to the president within two to six months, who makes the final decision on whether to impose tariffs. The law allows government officials, industries or unions to file claims.
第201条款案由华盛顿特区的美国国际贸易委员会(United States International Trade Commission)负责审理，这是由贸易专家组成、不分党派的准司法团体。该委员会会在受理案件后二到六个月内对美国总统提出建言，总统再就是否加征关税做最后决定。依照美国法律规定，政府官员、产业代表或工会都能对该委员会提出申请。
Presidents have almost always followed the commission’s advice, although President Carter turned down a recommendation for tariffs on stainless steel flatware in 1978 and President George H.W. Bush rejected a recommendation for tariffs on extruded rubber threads in 1992. The Office of the United States Trade Representative declined to comment on the union’s contentions.
历任美国总统几乎都会听从美国国际贸易委员会的建言，不过卡特总统曾在1978年拒绝了该委员会对不锈钢餐具加征关税的建议；乔治‧H‧W‧布什总统(President George H.W. Bush)则在1992年拒绝了对橡胶线加征关税的建议。美国贸易代表办公室(The Office of the United States Trade Representative)拒绝对该工会的主张发表评论。
China, which already produces more than half the world’s aluminum, is expanding capacity even as its economy decelerates. The result has been a surge in exports and falling prices for aluminum.
Chinese exports of aluminum jumped more than 27 percent in the past two years, Chinese customs figures show.
A spokesman for the government-affiliated China Aluminum Association, who gave his family name as Zeng, said aluminum’s increasing use in high-speed railway equipment, aerospace and electronics justified China’s expanding production capacity and rising exports.
Smelters in Canada and elsewhere, having been displaced in their traditional international markets, have stepped up shipments of raw aluminum to the United States. American imports of raw aluminum from Canada, the biggest supplier, jumped 10 percent by tonnage last year, United States customs data shows.
Other factors are influencing the aluminum trade. Alcoa, the main aluminum smelting company in the United States, has announced the closing of a series of smelting operations in the United States while relying more on production in Canada, Iceland and Saudi Arabia, as part of what it describes as an effort to improve overall efficiency. In a statement it said, “Alcoa has a long history of cooperation with the U.S. government. We haven’t seen the petition and look forward to reviewing it.”