American aluminium imports from the UAE are “very critical” to the national security of the United States, according to Danny Sebright, the president of the Washington DC-based US-UAE Business Council.
Sebright’s comments come just days after US President Donald Trump vowed to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports to protect US producers, risking retaliatory moves from some of the country’s major trading partners.
Speaking to Dubai Eye's Business Breakfast programme on Monday morning, Sebright noted that the “high-end” aluminium exported to the US by Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) are particularly important for the American defence industry.
“The UAE imports an aluminium product into the US that is only made by one smelter, and it’s the most high-end aluminium that goes into our aircraft and fighter aircraft,” he said. “It’s very critical to our national security.”
Additionally, Sebright said he believes that that the importance of UAE aluminium to the American defence establishment means that “there is still a lot of wiggle room and negotiating room on this.”
In his comments, Sebright noted that while the 290,000 tonnes of aluminium exported to the US from the UAE are a small fraction of the 32 million tonnes imported each year, for the UAE economy “it’s obviously important and means something.”
In a statement to local media on Sunday, EGA said it was prepared for any eventuality from Trump’s proposed tariffs.
“Alongside Asia, Europe and the UAE, the US is an important market for us,” the statement said. “However, we do not wish to comment at this stage, beyond saying that we are well prepared for whatever market conditions may arise.”
Arabian Business reached out to Emirates Steel for comment on Sunday but received no response.
On Monday, Sebright said he believed that ultimately the US has more to lose from the imposition of tariffs than America’s trade competitors abroad.
“American consumers and American workers are going to be hurt far more than this, in my opinion…than others around the world,” he said. “It will impact our economy in an inflationary way.”
“The ramifications for our relationships in a globalised world are enormous,” he added.
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