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American aluminum giants urge Trump to change tariff plans

  • The alternatives include a tariff specifically targeted to China's aluminum industry and an exemption for Canadian, European and other foreign producers.
  • The group represents 114 producers and other companies, including Alcoa, Vulcan and Rio Tinto Alcan, which collectively employ 713,000 workers in the United States.
A worker controls a crane to move an aluminum coil at the Arconic Inc. manufacturing facility in Alcoa, Tennessee.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A worker controls a crane to move an aluminum coil at the Arconic Inc. manufacturing facility in Alcoa, Tennessee.

American aluminum producers told President Donald Trump in a letter that they are "deeply concerned" about the effect global tariffs would have on their industry, including jobs.

They offered alternatives, including targeting China.

"We fear that the proposed tariff may do more harm than good," the group said in Monday's letter, which was signed by Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association. The group represents 114 producers and other companies, including Alcoa, Vulcan and Rio Tinto Alcan, which collectively employ 713,000 workers in the United States.

They urged the president to look at alternatives to his proposed 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, including a levy targeting China's aluminum industry and an exemption for Canadian, European and other foreign producers.

"Unfortunately, the tariffs proposed will do little to address the fundamental problem of massive aluminum overcapacity in China, while impacting supply chains with vital trading partners who play by the rules," the letter said.

In an email to CNBC, Brock said, "We share the president's goal for a thriving U.S. aluminum industry but a global tariff lets China off [the] hook while hurting our vital trading partners that support U.S. job growth. Aluminum is a unique industry with a specific challenge tied to Chinese overcapacity and any remedy needs to tackle that issue first and foremost."

After Trump announced plans for the tariff on Thursday, Alcoa put out a statement saying the company "appreciated" the attention on the industry, but "vital trading partners" such as Canada should be exempt.