Aluminum Industry Praises Senate Vote for Trade Promotion Authority

Washington, DC - The Aluminum Association commends the U.S. Senate's passage of the trade promotion authority bill as an important step forward in broadening U.S. trade. The association urges Senate and House leaders to convene a conference to reconcile the differences in the Senate and House versions at the soonest opportunity. "The Senate's action is critical if U.S. negotiators are to have a strong voice for open markets at the coming WTO Doha round," said J. Stephen Larkin, association president. "The United States simply cannot afford to lose out on more trade agreements," he said. Out of more than 150 international trade agreements in force today, the U.S. is party to only three.

"We now call for the leaders of the Senate and House to act as soon as possible to reach agreement in conference on the bill," Larkin said. The free flow of aluminum products on a global scale is vital to the aluminum industry. The U.S. is both a major importer and exporter of aluminum with approximately 38 percent of the U.S. supply of aluminum imported in 2001 from foreign producers in the form of primary ingot and scrap. Last year, U.S. exports amounted to 11.3 percent of U.S. producer shipments in the form of ingot, scrap and mill products. The annual cost to U.S. consumers of our trade restrictions is $70 billion, or about $1,100 per average family of four in 1999. Exports account for about one quarter of all U.S. economic growth.

President Bush urged the Senate to approve the bill, saying it would give a "strong, positive message" to U.S. trading partners who are worried about an uncertain commitment to free trade. The bill would give the White House trade negotiators the authority to make large trade agreements that Congress could then approve or reject but not amend.