Aluminum demand in the US declined by 19pc through the first seven months of the year compared to the same period in 2019, according to the Aluminum Association.
Speaking during a media roundtable on Thursday, the association said that, while orders improved over the past few months, they still lagged by 10pc compared to September of last year.
Of paramount importance, according to Tom Dobbins, president and chief executive officer of the Aluminum Association, is engaging in multilateral talks with countries like China that have dumped material around the world. “The amount they are subsidizing is huge,” said Dobbins, adding that it’s led to market distortions.
Answering a question from Davis Index about aluminum’s place as determined by the USMCA agreement, and the need to keep aluminum scrap in the domestic market, Dobbins said multilateral trade agreements could be beneficial for market participants, especially to combat subsidized imports and to allow goods, like aluminum, to flow freely within the region.
On domestic aluminum scrap, the association noted that secondary and scrap aluminum were critical aspects of North America’s supply chain, and from a strategic standpoint, demand in the US would improve if more aluminum scrap stayed in the country.
The Aluminum Association also released its report, 2020 Economic Impact of the Aluminum Industry, during the roundtable, which highlighted the aluminum industry’s resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also stated that, in 2020, the aluminum industry contributed $172bn to the US economy, of which over $70bn came from the primary aluminum-making industry, with the balance generated by adjacent industries.
Regarding employment, the industry has created more than 659,000 jobs this year, 166,000 of which are directly involved in the aluminum-making process. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted these numbers over the past seven months, Dobbins said.
He indicated that direct industry jobs and economic output are estimated to have declined by 11pc since the study was commissioned in April.