Domestic aluminum usage increases as America's own tariffs continue to level the playing field.
The United States produces a lot of aluminum scrap each year – the most in the world, actually. But, thanks to Chinese tariffs on American aluminum imports, most of that scrap has had nowhere to go (China is a huge aluminum scrap market.). Thus, it‘s now fulfilling considerable domestic demand for aluminum, which means most aluminum products purchased in the States in 2018 weren’t made anew but composed of recycled metal.
With that said, America's own Section 232 tariffs on aluminum are having their desired effect: more aluminum production in the United States.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
"The Trump administration’s tariffs on foreign aluminum drove imports of the metal down 20% last year, Harbor Aluminum says, while domestic production rose 20%. Pushing up U.S. aluminum production was the tariff’s intent."
A December 2018 study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) corroborates this growth, evidencing a projected 67 percent increase of U.S. primary aluminum production between 2017 and 2018. EPI also cites several smelters that have been restarted or expanded and will create over 1,000 new jobs.
But the tariff benefits are shared by downstream aluminum industries as well with 22 projects to open new facilities or expand existing ones announced since the Section 232 tariffs were publicized, according to EPI.
All this data goes to show that the American aluminum and steel industries on their way to recovering from decades of the destabilizing overcapacity that drove a glut of imports into our nation. Clearly, tariffs continue to do their work.