Last week European Aluminium, an association representing the European aluminium sector, issued a hard-hitting statement to the European Parliament, calling on them to address the ongoing exclusion of major aluminium product categories from its sanctions regime on Russia. This stands in stark contrast to actions taken by UK Government and other G7 international partners, including the US, and Canada, which have already imposed measures on Russian aluminium ingots.

European Aluminium stresses that a comprehensive ban should encompass all principal categories of aluminium products — including ingots, slabs, and billets. These categories collectively account for more than 85% of the EU’s aluminium imports from Russia. Adopting this comprehensive approach is crucial for aligning the EU’s actions with those of other G7 international partners. A united stance is essential to effectively isolate the Russian regime economically and halt the financing of its aggression.

“It’s getting harder and harder to justify the continued exclusion of aluminium ingots from the scope of EU sanctions on Russia,” says Paul Voss, Director General at European Aluminium. “We could live comfortably without it, and we should.  This continued omission has allowed Russia to bring in revenue of more than €3.5 billion over the last two years, directly contradicting the G7’s commitment to cut Russian metal revenues. Meanwhile, our downstream producers (e.g. extruders, rollers) in the EU are increasingly at a disadvantage compared to those in other G7 regions like the US, which is already shielded from the influx of semi-finished products made from discounted Russian metal ingots. We urgently need to address this gap to ensure a level playing field and live up to our international commitments. But most importantly, we must stop funding the Russian war machine with revenues from aluminium imports.”

Since the onset of the conflict, the European aluminium industry has proactively reduced its reliance on Russian aluminium. According to EU trade data, aluminium imports of ingots from Russia decreased by 35% last year. This trend continues into early 2024. This reduction has resulted in Russia’s market share now accounting for only about 8% of the EU’s aluminium ingot imports (HS 7601), down from 25% just a few years ago. Without the EU implementing comprehensive measures on Russian ingots, the industry’s efforts to achieve complete decoupling will be hindered. The European value chain could easily substitute the relatively small percentage of Russian metal with increased EU production and imports from elsewhere.

Commenting on the statement from European Aluminium, FIS CEO Iain McIlwee stated: “European Aluminium are right to press the EU on this and I would expect, and we will be calling for UK Government to join in. The UK has rightly taken a strong stance on any imports associated with Russian material, but this is undermined if aluminium and products made from Russian aluminium are still finding their way into the UK via European sources.  I am sure no UK firm would be happy to know that they are inadvertently buying and supplying products, the sale of which is supporting the war in the Ukraine.”

FIS, through our Sustainability Leadership Group has a strategic partnership with the Supply Chain Sustainability School, which offers free advice and training on Responsible Sourcing and how you can manage your risks in this supply chain – this can be accessed here