Century responds to ‘illegal aluminum subsidies’

Staff Report

CHICAGO, Ill. — Century Aluminum Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer Michael A. Bless on Thursday commended the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) announcement that the United States has requested World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations with China regarding the Chinese government’s illegal subsidization of its aluminum industry.

According to a release from Century Aluminum: “For years, the Chinese government has used its state-directed financial system and other channels to expand and maintain millions of tons of uneconomic and unnecessary primary aluminum smelting capacity. The resulting excess capacity has caused a persistent global glut of metal that has made it impossible for market-oriented producers in the United States and elsewhere to sell profitably. Smelters in the United States have been forced to shut down as a result, with thousands of workers losing their jobs as China continues to pump state support into an already bloated industry.”

Bless said: “USTR’s decision to challenge these unreasonable, illegal, and harmful subsidies is an important step towards a long-term solution, and we are thankful for the Administration’s efforts on behalf of our industry. But it is only a first step. Our industry is in crisis because China refuses to play by the rules. We need action now to ensure the survival of what remains of the U.S. aluminum industry.

Century believes strongly in the industry’s efforts to defend itself from unfair trade and we will continue to help lead those efforts until the market is restored to balance. We look forward to working with the incoming Administration in furtherance of that goal.”

The release further states: “Aluminum is a key input in a variety of advanced, downstream applications, from lightweight vehicles to aerospace technology. There were 18 smelters in the United States in 2001, when China joined the WTO. Today, there are only five, following a series of closures under the pressure of depressed global prices. Over the same period, China has gone from a minor player in the global industry to producing more than 50 percent of total global supply, even though China’s industry consists largely of high-cost smelters that are at the top end of the global cost curve.”

Submitted by Century Aluminum.

Staff Report