Lately, there has been much talk in the news regarding potential new tariffs and surcharges which would be imposed on certain materials and goods by the United States government. One specific surcharge that is causing the manufacturing industry to ask a lot of questions would be the surcharge on certain types of imported aluminum. Many issues of who can bring materials into the US have already been weeded out.
What Materials Would This Affect?
The newly proposed surcharges would be in effect on the 3003 and 5052 aluminum alloys. These grades of aluminum are often used in the Marine Industry and automotive applications, causing concern for many different marine and automotive manufacturing groups.
Why These Materials?
These two aluminum alloys were originally targeted for potential surcharges due to concerns on the quality of the material being imported from China. There has been much concern that the aluminum being shipped to the United States from China could be of a substandard quality. With the recent Kobe steel scandal that has come out of China, where substandard steel alloys were certified incorrectly, there is much more scrutiny on making sure the materials being imported are the quality they are supposed to be. While many manufacturing companies import their aluminum that originates in China due to lower costs, if the Alloy is not at the expected certifications, that could lead to potentially serious issues in the marine and automotive projects they are using the materials in.
The Big Picture
There are only 3 mills left in the United States that produce aluminum for these grades. The automotive industry has been making more and more cars with aluminum lately than they have in the past. In the current climate, importing aluminum alloys from China and other countries is necessary as there is not enough being produced in the US to meet the current demand. Putting these surcharges on the imported materials makes the cost the same or slightly higher as getting it from a mill in the United States. This can hurt the businesses of American manufacturers. However, their goal should really be to prevent substandard material from entering the US marketplace and winding up in their products.
At Mid-West Screw Products we have been working with and cutting all kinds of aluminum alloys for many years. We understand the importance of making sure only the best quality aluminum is used, and the importance of not having substandard aluminum used for manufacturing. This is a difficult situation, as the question is can we trust this material not to be substandard as other materials from China were proven to be falsified and not what they certified it was in the past. Many answers are still needed before this mess can be solved.