U.S. to impose 200% tariff on aluminum from Russia -White House

FILE PHOTO: Aluminium ingots are seen stored at the foundry shop of the Rusal Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter in Krasnoyarsk
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States will impose a 200% tariff on aluminum and derivatives produced in Russia from March 10, the White House said on Friday, effectively a ban as it announced sanctions on the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The United States will also apply a 200% tariff on aluminum imports of primary aluminum produced in Russia from April 10.

"President Biden has made it a priority to mitigate the effects of Russia’s invasion on domestic industries critical to our national security, and this includes the American aluminum industry," the U.S. Department of Commerce said.

"In imposing these tariffs, we are denying Russia an important market for its aluminum while taking a stand for America’s workers."

Russian aluminum is produced by Rusal, which accounts for about 6% of global supplies.

"Alcoa welcomes the imposition of tariffs by the U.S. government on Russian aluminum," the U.S. aluminum producer said. "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."

Neither Russian metal nor the companies that produce it have been targeted by sanctions imposed on some Russian companies in response to Russia sending troops into Ukraine last year.

In 2018, however, U.S. Treasury Department sanctions on Rusal froze the bulk of the company's exports, paralyzed its supply chain and scared off customers.

The sanctions also fueled a jump in aluminum prices on the London Metal Exchange.

LME prices on Friday shrugged of news of the tariffs because they don't stop consumers and traders in other countries from buying Russian aluminium and supplies are for now ample, metals analysts said.

Prices of aluminum, vital for transport, packaging and construction industries, were down 2.5% at $2,337 a tonne at 1652 GMT. Earlier they touched $2,321.5, the lowest since Jan 9.

The tariffs are unlikely to significantly tighten the aluminium market in the United States as the country imports only a small percentage of its aluminium from Russia.

U.S. imports of unwrought aluminum and alloys from Russia amounted to 191,809 tonnes, or roughly 4.4% of the more than 4.4 million tonne total last year, compared with 8.9% in 2018 and 14.6% in 2017, according to Trade Data Monitor.

Rusal declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington, Polina Devitt, Anastasia Lyrchikova and Pratima Desai; Editing by Caitlin Webber and Louise Heavens)