The FACE campaign to eliminate aluminum import duties

2019 is about to close, the year that we will remember, among other things, for the FACE campaign, federation of aluminum consumers in Europe, against aluminum import duties. This news is from last June, but still topical in the hope that the situation will improve in the coming year. The FACE campaign was aimed at asking the European authorities to remove the tariffs for the import of raw aluminum. Because although Europe is a net importer of raw aluminum (about 74% enters the Old Continent), import duties range from 3 to 6%.

In support of the campaign, FACE had published a study by the University of Rome, which explained that tariffs on aluminum imports amounted to 18 billion euros. Import duties are a very expensive additional burden for the aluminum industry, which is already characterized by low profit margins, as raw aluminum rapresents more than 50% of the production costs of semi-finished products. According to FACE, import tariffs are "a threat to the survival of the sector, composed largely of SMEs that must already fight fierce and often unfair international competition, particularly from China".

Import duties on aluminum "are a disincentive to investment in Europe"

Import tariffs up to 6% were introduced several decades ago to protect European producers, but in many cases they have had an opposite effect, that is pushing the European primary metal industry towards decline. Because investments have been discouraged and smelters have been closed by large producers. While Europe has lost 30% of its primary aluminum production capacity since 2008, mainly due to its lack of competitiveness, European demand for aluminum products has risen, on average by 3% per year. So the aluminum industry is growing despite the weight of import duties on the subject and the fact that raw metal cannot be found at so-called duty free prices in Europe.

According to FACE and the university study, "this mechanism of tariffs on raw metal leads EU converters and final users to pay more for raw materials than they should". They added that "this is a negative situation, so is essential an intervention to avoid further damage to the downstream of the light metal". This is why Face addressed the European Commission and the Council: to eliminate import duties on raw aluminum, "to support the competitiveness and survival of a strategic industrial system in the old continent".