The National Marine Manufacturers Association was among the groups that testified against a proposal to impose a 60 percent import duty on Chinese aluminum, saying there is not enough domestic supply to meet boatbuilder demand.
The NMMA testified before the International Trade Commission during a hearing in December about the potential tax on Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet. The levy would impose a “significant price burden” on U.S. marine manufacturers, the NMMA said in its Currents newsletter.
“I'm kind of unclear as to why it is that the Commerce Department would actively try to threaten our industry by cutting off the supply of a critical raw material,” especially given its slow recovery from the recession, said NMMA senior vice president of government relations John McKnight in a transcript of the testimony.
NMMA members are concerned that the tax, if implemented, will affect their ability to maintain current production levels, much less meet projected growth for 2018, McKnight said.
“Although the Commerce Department has taken this unusual step of self-initiation, I'm here to ask the International Trade Commission to stop this case in its tracks,” he said.
Boatbuilders need wide-width material, meaning sheet that is 72 inches or wider, McKnight said.
“It's my understanding that there are only two mills in the United States that can produce this width, and even they are unable to fulfill U.S. demand,” he said.
Those two producers serve some large, high-volume boatbuilders, but “many members that have smaller volume needs are simply not big enough to get the attention or the output of these mills,” McKnight said.
That means supply must come from outside the United States, he said.
Many industries have no idea this proposal is on the table.
“We found out about this two weeks ago, and I've been calling around to other industries that are similar to ours,” McKnight said. “They have no idea that this is happening. And I think it's really important with this group that you take a hard look at the downstream effect of end users because decisions that you can make could affect U.S. business in a much greater way than just the impact to the aluminum, which has been very well organized today.”
The NMMA, along with the Recreational Vehicle Manufacturers Association and C.E. Smith Co. Inc., submitted a post-conference brief for consideration by the ITC.