New research from EPI’s Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research Robert Scott shows that after Section 232 tariffs were imposed on aluminum (and steel) in March 2018, the domestic producers of both primary and downstream aluminum products have made commitments to create over 3,000 jobs, generate over $3.4 billion in new investments, and substantially increase domestic production of aluminum.
Scott explains that in early 2017, the U.S. primary aluminum industry had almost disappeared completely. Between 2010 and 2017, 18 of 23 aluminum smelters shut down, eliminating roughly 13,000 jobs. In 2016, there were three alumina refineries supplying U.S. smelters, and by 2017, only one remained in operation.
Now, after the Section 232 tariffs were imposed, three smelters are being restarted, and another has announced a capacity expansion. Seven smelters in total will be in operation by the end of 2018. This will lead to a projected increase of aluminum production by 67 percent between 2017 and the end of 2018.
Additionally, 22 new and expansion projects have been announced in downstream aluminum industries producing extruded (such as pipes and tubes) and rolled (sheet and plate) products. In the year-to-date period of January through October 2018, North American shipments of all extruded products are up 6.3 percent and total sheet and plate shipments have increased by 4.6 percent. To date, U.S. employment in the aluminum industries has increased slightly by 300 jobs since the tariffs were imposed.
“The estimates of the jobs lost and the economic harm done by the steel and aluminum tariffs have been wildly overblown,” said Scott. “In fact, the tariffs have shown to be a net-positive to the economy. In the next few years, we should see thousands of jobs created and billions of dollars in aluminum production, due to the Section 232 tariffs.”
Scott will present his research today at the National Press Club.