European Aluminum welcomed the European Commission’s proposed 12th package of sanctions against Russia, which includes a ban on the importation of certain aluminium products, such wires, tubes and pipes, as well as aluminium foil.1
While European Aluminium welcomes this initial signal of intent, the association urges the EU to adopt a much more rapid and expansive approach to the restriction of Russian aluminium imports. The proposed list included in the package covers only 12% of EU imports of aluminium products (HS 76) from Russia, not nearly enough to have a meaningful impact in practice. Furthermore, future sanctions must be accompanied by strong anti-circumvention measures to ensure an effective mechanism to prevent the circumvention of sanctions through imports of (semi-) final aluminium products from third countries.
“These sanctions are a small first step, but we strongly encourage the European Union to accelerate its efforts and broaden their scope to cover all major product categories, including ingots, slabs, and billets, which constitute over 85% of the EU’s imports from Russia,” notes Paul Voss, Director General of European Aluminium. “The European aluminium industry has already started phasing out Russian aluminium and is willing to accelerate the process. It is a matter of principle and strategic foresight—it’s simply the right thing to do in the current circumstances.”
In response to the onset of the war, the European aluminium industry has proactively taken measures to reduce its reliance on Russian aluminium. Year-to-date (YTD) EU trade data up to August 2023 highlights a significant 34% decrease in EU aluminium imports from Russia compared to the previous year. This marks a pivotal shift, with Russia now accounting for only approximately 9% of the EU’s aluminium ingot imports (HS 7601), down from 25% just a few years ago.
“The latest import data underscores our proactive steps towards diversifying supply, but now our focus must shift to boosting our domestic production capabilities. By expanding and safeguarding our primary aluminium production and recycling operations, we can fulfill Europe’s rising demand for aluminium and secure our strategic autonomy,” Paul concludes.
1 The EU sanctions package of 8 April 2022 already included an import restriction on aluminium plates, sheets and strip, of a thickness exceeding 0,2 mm (trade code: 7606).