Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fair Trade Initiatives to the Rescue

Five years ago, major players within a key segment of the North American aluminum industry came together to defend their markets from an existential threat.  That threat was seen in the surge of extruded aluminum product, much of it anodized, being imported into the U.S. and Canada from China.

What followed is described by some as a “defensive strategy” to protect previously tariff-free and highly competitive markets from the detrimental effects of unfair trade practices, such as government subsidization and predatory under-cost pricing (dumping).  Aluminum extruders and aluminum product manufacturers in the United States and Canada, along with their trade association groups such as the Aluminum Extruders Council and the Curtain Wall Coalition, petitioned their respective governments for protective tariffs to level the playing field.  Those efforts were successful.  As a result, this key segment of the aluminum industry remains safe and intact.  To read more about this strategy, go to:

Note that this surge in imports from China peaked in 2009, just as the North American economy was feeling the brunt of the post-housing-bubble recession.  AEC’s Jeff Henderson writes in his current blog (linked above) that the effect of fair trade initiatives is to have ”delivered over one billion more pounds in aluminum extrusion shipments in 2013 as compared to 2009. This 32% increase in volume has led to extruders investing over seven hundred million US dollars in the past two years.”  That is really the bottom line.  Fairness led to competitiveness.  And that led to more business, more jobs and, one could argue, better products for customers. 

Have aluminum anodizers and other metal finishers benefitted from this?  There is not a lot of hard evidence on this, but common sense indicates the answer is “yes”.  A myriad of consumer and industrial applications were targeted by the Chinese.  Anodized and fabricated extrusions would have been easy targets.  As more orders began pouring into North America, it became easier for custom service offerings using domestic warehouses to deliver just-in-time delivery programs.  With subsidized production, artificially low prices, special delivery systems, and improving quality, the growth in Chinese extrusions had no barrier.  In short, this portion of the domestic aluminum manufacturing industry was in dire peril of being completely outsourced.

Fortunately, due to the foresight and diligence of leading aluminum manufacturers, that didn’t happen.  My trade association, the Aluminum Anodizers Council has remained aware and supportive of efforts to restore and maintain fair trade.  AAC believes global trade is good for competition and consumers, but only when it is conducted freely and fairly.  The Chinese cut corners in attempting to dominate world supply in basic manufacturing industries such as aluminum parts.  When that happens, tariffs can restore a healthy competitive balance.  That is exactly what happened in the aluminum extrusion markets in North America.  Thank goodness. 
This Blog was submitted by:  Rand A. Baldwin, CAE, is the President of the Aluminum Anodizers Council. 

Mr. Baldwin is the chief of staff for the Aluminum Anodizers Council, a not-for-profit trade organization representing the interests of aluminum anodizing firms, suppliers and other members of the aluminum anodizing industry.  For more information, see

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Aluminum Anodizing Conference Registration is Now Open!

The AAC Conference is going East, we will be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this September for our Annual Conference.  

Here are some of the conference highlights:

Monday, September 15

·         Anodizing Essential Workshop (Level 1) – Full Day

Tuesday, September 16

·         Anodizing Quality Workshop (Level 2) – Half Day (morning session)

·         Alcoa Technical Center Tour

·         Welcome Reception & Anodizing Expo

Wednesday, September 17

·         General Sessions:

o   Aluminum and the Road to 54.5 Implications for Anodizers, Lynn Brown, Long Point Associates and AEC Industry Promotion Consultant

o    Recent Developments of Colored Anodic Films for Space Applications, Professor Laurent Arurault, CIRIMAT – Universit√© Paul Sabatier

·         Focus Sessions featuring 15 topic-specific presentations in three concurrent tracks (Recycling Track, Technical Track and Color & Texture Track)

·         Reception & Anodizing Expo

Thursday, September 18

·         General Sessions: 

o   Team Building and Employee Engagement, Vance Jones, Easton Technical Products

o   Managerial Accounting for the Anodizing Shop, Kevin Janis, Reliant Aluminum Products, LLC

o   Sales and Marketing of Anodizing Services in the Job Shop, Jack Tetrault, D-CHN

o   Strategies to Grow Demand for Anodizing Finishing, Guy Charpentier, Bonnell Aluminum

Exhibit space and Sponsorship opportunities are still available!

We hope you will join us in Pittsburgh!