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Aluminum ingots stacked in a warehouse.

US Imposing 200% Penalty on Russian Aluminum

Feb. 27, 2023
An expected, new tariff was announced for imports of primary aluminum and other aluminum products, in a renewed effort to obstruct Russia’s ability to conduct war in Ukraine.

The United States and its Group of Seven allies are imposing new restrictions on Russian commerce – including individuals, materials, and goods – in an effort to hamper Russia’s ability to conduct war in Ukraine. The penalties have been anticipated for several weeks, but were imposed on the one-year anniversary of the start of the war.

Beginning on March 10, the U.S. will apply a 200% tariff to aluminum and derivative products from Russia. Starting April 10, the U.S. will apply a 200% tariff to primary aluminum products from Russia.

"In imposing these tariffs, we are denying Russia an important market for its aluminum while taking a stand for America’s workers," according to a U.S. Dept. of Commerce statement.

"We continue to advocate for sanctions as the most effective means for the government to take action against Russia and level the playing field for U.S. producers," according to a statement by Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum producer.

However, the tariffs are not expected to impact U.S. businesses significantly, as Russian materials represented only about 4.4% of U.S. aluminum imports for 2022.

Rusal, the second-largest aluminum producer in the world, is the target of the sanctions, as it has been in the past. In 2018, the U.S. imposed tariffs on Russian aluminum in order to isolate the firm’s largest shareholder, Oleg Deripaska. The tycoon cut his holding to 50% and reduced his voting stake to a minority, and the U.S. lifted the tariff in 2019

Along with the tariffs, administered by the Commerce Dept., the U.S. also imposed new restrictions by the State Dept. designating dozens of individuals and organizations as “complicit in the administration of Russia’s government-wide operations and policies of aggression toward Ukraine and in the illegitimate administration of occupied Ukrainian territories for the benefit of the Russian Federation.”

The individuals include Russian government ministers, governors, and high-level officials, and other individuals determined to be operating in illegal market activity in Ukraine on behalf of Russia, such as theft of grain. Also targeted are some people active in Russia’s energy and commercial sectors, including manufacturers, technology and software developers, and figures associated Russia’s nuclear weapons and civil nuclear sectors.

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