Aluminum Cans Pose No Security Risk
This summer, millions of American consumers will pop the top on aluminum beverage cans produced as they enjoy backyard cookouts, outdoor concerts, ball games, and beach time. That’s why as the U.S. government considers whether to use national security to protect the aluminum industry, they should keep in mind that the aluminum can sheet used for beverage containers is not a security risk. It does not require intervention in the form of tariffs or trade restrictions.
In fact, such actions could increase the price of domestic aluminum, endangering manufacturing jobs, from can makers to beverage producers. And all this for nothing; aluminum can packaging is made from an alloy and unsuitable for any national security applications. (That’s why the defense industry doesn’t use it!)
What this kind of aluminum does do is produce jobs — lots of them. More specifically, the aluminum can industry produces 96 billion food, beverage and aerosol containers, employing more than 11,000 American workers in 164 plants in 33 states, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa. The industry generates $13.3 billion in economic activity. Overall, the beer industry creates nearly 2.23 million American jobs, generating over $350 billion annually in economic output, which is equal to nearly 1.9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. And last year alone, more than half of the beer produced was packed in aluminum cans or aluminum bottles. The non-alcoholic beverage industry accounts for nearly 240,000 direct industry jobs, and another 788,000 jobs in grocery, retail, and other industries that depend on beverage sales. The industry’s direct economic impact amounts to $166.5 billion, of which $21.1 billion is wages paid to American workers.
Another unintended consequence of a trade action against aluminum can sheet and primary aluminum is disruptions along the supply chain. Like most industries, can makers and beverage companies depend on predictability in supply and prices. If the aluminum supply is hindered by unnecessary tariffs or trade restrictions, it could lead to supply inefficacies and affect product availability. Can manufacturers and beer and non-alcoholic beverage producers of all sizes would be significantly challenged by this potential fluctuation in supply and prices.
Currently, 66 percent of primary aluminum imported into the United States comes from Canada. No other country accounts for more than 10 percent of imports. Primary aluminum is not available in the United States commercially. In fact, the United States has been in a deficit position with respect to primary aluminum since the end of World War II.
With these concerns in mind, we urge the U.S. Department of Commerce to exempt aluminum can sheet used to make beverage containers and other aluminum products from any tariff or other trade actions. As associations that represent can makers and beverage producers, we want to ensure that all Americans can enjoy a summer without worrying about an increase in the cost of their favorite frosty beverage.
Susan K. Neely is President and CEO of the American Beverage Association. Jim McGreevy is President and CEO of the Beer Institute. Bob Pease is CEO of the Brewers Association. And Robert Budway is President of the Can Manufacturers Institute.