Aluminum Foil Trade Actions Threaten the Flexible Packaging Industry

The Department of Commerce (DOC) shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in U.S. manufacturing markets, but that is exactly what they are doing in the case of aluminum foil imports. A “self-initiated” case by the DOC against suppliers of aluminum foil from South Korea and Thailand threatens manufacturers of flexible packaging with unwarranted duties on necessary aluminum foil for food, pharmaceuticals, and medical device packaging. These duties are not appropriate as the foil used in these applications is not manufactured in the United States in the quantity and quality needed. In fact, this foil¬—which creates the ideal barrier to bacteria, odor, sunlight, and contamination—is essential to protect the domestic food, health, and medical product supply.

In 2017, the U.S. government imposed duties on aluminum products coming from China, including aluminum foil. In 2018, yet another administrative action was taken under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act and additional worldwide tariffs were imposed on aluminum products, including foil. Now, the DOC is initiating (not at the request of the domestic industry, but of its own volition) an investigation for potential additional fees on imports of aluminum foil from South Korea and Thailand. These continued actions and costs to FPA members threaten domestic jobs and the availability of products that American consumers use every day. What makes these actions even more destructive is that the foil targeted by these duties and tariffs is not manufactured in the U.S. Flexible packaging manufacturers have no choice but to import. The DOC already stipulated this truth by granting hundreds of exemptions to these manufacturers from the Section 232 tariffs. This same exclusionary process, however, does not apply to the initial Chinese duties, nor duties on Thai and Korean foil if enacted.
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