On Wednesday, May 3 2017, China Trade Task Force (CTTF), a multinational campaign group, visited London to rally transnational support to call for an end to Chinese illegal aluminium subsidies that are leading to job losses across Europe and the United States.
CTTF is urging more European and UK stakeholders to join the fight and are calling on the European Union and the UK government to press the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to take urgent and decisive action.
Since China’s entry to the WTO, the number of primary aluminium smelters in the EU has declined by over 38% and more than 9,000 European aluminium workers have lost their jobs, not to mention the 1,640 British primary aluminium jobs that have been lost in UK as a result of China’s illegal aluminium subsidies that violate its WTO obligations. The U.S. has also been particularly hard hit with over 3,500 aluminium workers losing their jobs in the last 18 months alone.
Mike Bless, CEO of Century Aluminum Company, noted that, ‘China has egregiously violated WTO rules by giving its own aluminium industry ultra-low interest loans, grants and illegal energy subsidies. Only through these illegal actions has China been able to build and maintain an uneconomical aluminium industry at the expense of workers across the European Union, United Kingdom and the United States.’ Mr. Bless remarked ‘the WTO and US and European leaders must act quickly to ensure a fair playing field for the US and EU aluminium industries to compete.’
At the time of its entry to the WTO China represented just over 10% of worldwide aluminium production, and now through its illegal subsidisation represents over 55% of global aluminium production. Recent UK Minister of Trade for State Lord Digby Jones expressed his support for the WTO case moving forward at the CTTF press conference in Westminster noting that, ‘China is breaking the rules and its illegal aluminium subsidies are hurting European industry. China’s cheating has resulted in the loss of more than 1,600 well paid British jobs.’ Lord Jones went onto note that ‘The WTO case gets at the heart of how China uses government directed capital to unfairly seize market share at the expense of European workers and their families. And for a post-Brexit Britain that will be forging new trade deals around the world, it’s vital that the WTO is seen to act when nations such as China cheat’.
The CTTF has published an open letter to the UK government, a copy of which they are delivering to 10 Downing St, setting out the scale of the crisis and calling for the UK government and leaders in Brussels to stand up for European aluminium workers.