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More Aluminum Import Taxes, Less U.S. Economic Growth

Taxing aluminum importers won’t benefit the U.S. manufacturing industry. Protect U.S. jobs, critical supplies and your wallet from additional tariffs on aluminum foil.

The Department of Commerce (DOC) should not be picking winners and losers in United States manufacturing markets, but that is exactly what the federal department is attempting to do. The latest proposed tax on aluminum foil imports hurts a lot more than it actually helps and puts American jobs and safety at risk. It ultimately costs consumers more money and strains the supply chain, as the foil used in these applications is not manufactured in the U.S. in the quantity and quality needed.

As reported by the Flexible Packaging Association, a “self-initiated” case by the DOC against suppliers of aluminum foil from South Korea and Thailand threatens flexible packaging manufacturers with unwarranted duties on necessary aluminum foil for food, pharmaceuticals, and medical device packaging. This foil­ is vital to our marketplace and creates the ideal barrier to bacteria, odor, sunlight, and contamination—essential to the protection of our domestic food, health, and medical product supply. In 2017, the U.S. government imposed duties on aluminum products coming from China, including aluminum foil. In 2018, yet another administrative action was taken under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act and additional worldwide tariffs were imposed on aluminum products, including foil.

Now, the DOC is initiating—not at the request of the domestic industry, but of its own volition—an investigation for potential additional fees on imports of aluminum foil from South Korea and Thailand. These continued actions and costs to the flexible packaging industry threaten domestic jobs and the availability of products that American consumers use every day. What makes these actions even more destructive is that the foil targeted by these duties and tariffs is not manufactured in the U.S. Therefore, flexible packaging manufacturers have no choice but to import. The DOC already stipulated this truth by granting hundreds of exemptions to these manufacturers from the Section 232 tariffs. This same exclusionary process, however, does not apply to the initial Chinese duties, nor duties on Thai and Korean foil, if enacted.

Aluminum foil is used as a barrier to provide sterility and shelf-stability for a host of food, beverage, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. This includes food and beverage applications such as yogurt, spices, juices, pet food, and candy; health applications, such as over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and COVID-19 testing kits; medical device packaging, such as vaccinations, absorbable sutures, and surgery kits. They also manufacture the systems and packaging for institutional food delivery for hospitals, universities, and retail. And, aluminum foil is used for the delivery of Meals, Ready-to-Eat, for the U.S. military.

When it comes to packaging for medical devices, food, and health care, sterility is critical—a matter of life and death. There is no ideal substitution for the barrier protection aluminum foil provides. And, unfortunately, this aluminum foil is not made in the quantity or quality needed in the U.S. Thus, packaging and product manufacturers have no choice but to import it.

This has not changed in nearly five years, from when duties were imposed on aluminum foil produced in China. Adding Thailand and South Korea to the list of countries, with duties on foil, will not solve the problem of the lack of U.S. investment in this segment. Not only will the U.S. aluminum industry not benefit, but this regulation will also greatly damage the U.S. flexible packaging industry, as well as the product manufacturers who utilize domestic packaging.

Further, increased foil costs would result in higher prices for both manufacturing companies and consumers, and jobs may be lost to offshore competitors. The job losses could extend beyond those employed by manufacturers, as aluminum foil is generally only one substrate of many that goes into packaging and is not interchangeable with other substrates for myriad merchandise and services. Thus, moving aluminum foil packaging offshore will also result in the loss of jobs for paper, film, adhesives, fitments, inks, and other packaging components. The DOC must right the wrong that they have self-initiated and protect U.S. manufacturing sectors. To learn more and take action, visit

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