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Trade Group Says EU Planning New Ban on Russian Aluminum, but More Should Be Done

The EU’s next sanctions package against Russia could lead to new designations of more than 120 more people and entities, new import and export bans, a proposal to strengthen the price cap on Russian oil and more, the European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a notice last week. The package could also extend EU import bans for certain aluminum products, including wires, tubes, pipes and aluminum foil, the European Aluminum trade group said.

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The EEAS, which said the European Commission submitted the proposed sanctions package to the European Council Nov. 15, said new sanctions could be applied to “actors from the Russian military” along with the country’s defense sector, information technology industry “as well as other important economic operators.” Although the EEAS didn’t explicitly mention new trade restrictions on aluminum, European Aluminum said the package would lead to a ban on about 12% of EU imports of aluminum products from Russia.

But the trade group said the ban is “not nearly” broad enough to “have a meaningful impact in practice” and asked the EU to expand the restrictions to cover more products. “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 aluminum imports,” the group said.

An EU import ban should apply to all “major product categories, including ingots, slabs, and billets, which constitute over 85% of the EU’s imports from Russia,” said Paul Voss, director general of European Aluminium. He said the European aluminum industry has “already started phasing out” products from Russia “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.”

He pointed to EU trade that showed, since August 2023, the EU has seen a 34% decrease in year-to-date aluminum imports from Russia compared with the previous year. “The latest import data underscores our proactive steps towards diversifying supply, but now our focus must shift to boosting our domestic production capabilities,” Voss said.

Along with aluminum trade restrictions, the new package also “proposes to adopt new import and export bans, as well as actions to tighten the oil price cap and to counter circumvention of EU sanctions.”

It also will sanction those who helped plan the “illegal so-called ‘elections’ in the territories of Ukraine that Russia has temporarily occupied,” and those responsible for the “forced ‘re-education’ of Ukrainian children and actors spreading disinformation and propaganda” in support of Russia, EEAS said. “The proposals aim to reinforce the sanctions framework overall.”