In a significant move, the Aluminum Association, Instituto Mexicano del Aluminio, and the Aluminium Association of Canada have collectively called for enhanced trade policies, including ongoing tariff-free trade, increased import monitoring, and stronger trade enforcement. This appeal was outlined in a detailed letter addressed to trade officials in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, presented ahead of a summit in Mexico City, which focused on the evolution and future prospects of the North American aluminum trade relationship.
The letter emphasized the longstanding reliance of the industries on cross-border trade within North America, highlighting the region’s role in producing high-quality, low-carbon aluminum and aluminum products. It pointed out that in 2022, trade between the nations in aluminum and related products surpassed US$47 billion, underscoring the importance of Canada and Mexico as the United States’ primary aluminum trading partners.
Key actions called for by the North American aluminum industry ahead of the 2026 review of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) include:
- The continuation of tariff-free aluminum trade within North America, deemed vital for the sector in all three countries. The integrated market allows for capitalization on competitive advantages unique to each country, while benefiting from the strengths of aluminum firms across the region. The industry underlines the importance of maintaining Section 232 aluminum tariff exemptions for Canada and Mexico, and expresses concern over a 15-country trade case, involving Mexico, filed by a group of U.S. aluminum extrusion producers.
- The establishment of increased regional aluminum import monitoring systems. Following the removal of Section 232 tariffs under the USMCA, an agreement was reached to monitor aluminum and steel trade. While the United States and Canada have implemented new or enhanced aluminum import monitoring programs, Mexico has yet to do so. The associations urge the Mexican government to fulfill this commitment.
- Strengthening regional trade enforcement to combat unfair and illegal aluminum trade, a challenge that has impacted the global industry. Notably, the United States and Mexico previously fell victim to a significant aluminum transshipment scheme involving Chinese aluminum, leading to evasion of substantial tariffs. The associations highlight the importance of continued vigilance and enforcement of global trade laws in the sector.
- Full support for the Aluminum Sustainability Agenda, encouraging government backing for industry efforts in decarbonization and increased recycling. The letter notes the significant reduction in carbon emissions for aluminum production in North America since 1991, emphasizing aluminum’s critical role in the green energy transition.
The associations also reflected on their joint support in 2019 for the removal of Section 232 tariffs on aluminum imports within the region, a move that led to the implementation of the USMCA in 2020. The agreement, due for a mandatory review in 2026, will see its early review stages commence as early as next year.
The focus on maintaining a strong, collaborative, and fair aluminum trade environment in North America is clear from these associations’ collective stance. Their call for action underscores the importance of aluminum in various sectors and its role in the broader economic landscape.