Industrial consumers of the EU oppose this step
European aluminum producers, backed by four EU countries, are putting pressure on the bloc to impose an embargo on aluminum imports from Russia as part of the expected 13th package of sanctions, Politico reports.
Two years after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe still buys 9% of its aluminum imports from Russia. In 2022, about €2.3 billion worth of this steel was imported from Russia.
However, EU diplomats have said that a full ban is unlikely to be enacted before the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Lithuanian proposal, supported by Estonia, Latvia and Poland, is likely to be opposed by industries in countries such as Italy. They oppose measures that could raise prices.
The EU aims to present the 13th package of sanctions by February 24, but the significant import volumes mean that all 27 member states are unlikely to agree on a complete ban so quickly.
European aluminum producers, struggling with high energy costs and cheap imports, are hoping that sanctions against Russia, which remains the world’s third-largest producer of the metal, may bring them some relief.
Since last fall, the EU Aluminum Producers Association has argued that Brussels should completely stop Russian imports of this product. They said that producers have already accelerated their separation. Despite the fact that four EU countries are on their side, the issue is now out of the industrialists’ control, as the bloc members are engaged in very time-limited negotiations.
At the same time, European industrial consumers oppose sanctions on aluminum. Their introduction would be «a kind of economic tactical nuclear bomb,» the Federation of Aluminum Consumers in Europe (FACE) said last December. This organization, representing the interests of the industry in Italy, Germany and other EU countries, said that «sanctions should not become a weapon.»
As GMK Center reported earlier, the 12th package of European sanctions against Russia, adopted on December 18 last year, introduced new restrictions and expanded the existing ones, closing loopholes for circumventing sanctions. The new bans also apply to metallurgical imports from Russia, in particular pig iron and ferroalloys, which have long remained “untouchable” for inclusion in sanctions lists. At the same time, the Europeans eased the conditions for imports of Russian slabs and alloy steel billets by extending the transition period.