US Commerce Department ponders aluminium import monitoring system

The United States Commerce Department is considering the launch of an Aluminum Import Monitoring and Analysis (AIM) system in the struggle to deter transshipments and tariff evasion.

The AIM system would monitor imports to identify potential transshipments and tariff circumvention, requiring aluminium importers to identify the metal’s country of origin, including where it was smelted and poured, according to a Federal Register notice published on Wednesday April 29.

The proposed rule was praised by the US Aluminum Association, which has repeatedly called for measures to curb Chinese overcapacity and transshipments.

“Over the past five years, aluminum overcapacity in China has grown by 60% and increasingly that metal is being exported to third-party countries, further distorting global markets,” the trade group said on April 29, noting that China’s exports of flat-rolled aluminium products increased by nearly 68% during the period to more than 3.7 million tons in 2019.

“Increasingly, as Chinese exports displace domestic production in foreign markets, producers in those countries are exporting their own production to the United States,” the Aluminum Association added.

Commerce will launch a website for aluminium import monitoring, separate from its main website, to publish the gathered information. The agency will accept comments from market participants until May 29, the notice said.

The system would replicate the Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) system, a similar tool used to monitor steel imports that has been in place since 2005.

All importers of aluminium products covered under the US Section 232 tariffs will be required to obtain licenses for their shipments and must submit the license number to US Customs and Border Protection.

License applicants will have to share the following information: Filer company name , address and contact details; entry type (consumption, foreign trade zone); importer and exporter name; manufacturer name; country of origin and exportation; expected dates of export and import; expected port of entry; current HTS number; country where the metal was smelted and poured; quantity; and customs value.

Multiple products can be covered under a single license, provided the importer, exporter, manufacturer and country of origin are the same.

Licenses will be valid for up to 75 days and can be applied for up to 60 days prior to the shipment’s arrival date.

Additionally, shipments valued under $5,000 will be exempt but importers will still be required to apply for a reusable low-value license.