Seized Guardian Venezuela Plant  
Could Result in “Grave Safety Risks”  
he socialist government of  
Venezuela seized Guardian In-  
dustries’ float glass facility in  
Maturin in late July just as the com-  
pany was about to shut down the glass  
furnace for regular maintenance, ac-  
cording to a statement from Guardian.  
The company says the South American  
country could be creating a dangerous  
situation at the facility for employees  
“abandoned” or “sabotaged” the fa-  
cility, and it says the country violated  
international investment treaties by  
taking over the factory.  
“The Venezuelan government  
seized control of Guardian Venezu-  
ela when the company attempted to  
implement an orderly and safe cool-  
down of its glass melting furnace  
to protect the safety of its employ-  
and the community if it continues to Guardian Industries says Venezuela ees and the community in general,  
make glass there without completing seized the company’s float glass plant while otherwise continuing com-  
the maintenance work.  
in the country right when it was about mercial operations,” the statement  
Guardian also forcefully rejected to perform needed maintenance work  
Venezuela’s claim that the company on the furnace.  
continued on page 26  
Report: Don’t Blame China for  
Falling U.S. Aluminum Production  
eclines in the U.S. primary  
UNO’s analysis notes that primary  
“While the upstream producers of  
aluminum industry aren’t en- aluminum production in the U.S. primary aluminum in the United States  
tirely the fault of China, James peaked in the 1980s and has been are facing significant challenges, the  
Breeden with UNO International Trade trending lower ever since. In contrast, downstream industry—consisting of  
Strategy argues in a recent white China’s aluminum expansion began producers specializing in value-added  
paper. He says more trade barriers will around 2000.  
aluminum products—is experiencing  
hurt, rather than help, the situation. UNO’s report finds that U.S. up- robust growth and profitability,” ac-  
According to the report, “The Alumi- stream producers today are dealing cording to the report. “The increased  
num Industry and the ‘China Problem’: with higher energy costs and less ef- demand for downstream products  
A Convenient and Misleading Explana- ficient technology than producers in has offset the struggles of the U.S.  
tion,” the idea that China is solely be- China, Canada, Russia and the Middle primary aluminum sector such that,  
hind the decline in primary aluminum East. Because of that, U.S. smelters in recent years, the entire value chain  
production in the U.S. “ignores the are struggling to compete. In the U.S., of the U.S. aluminum industry has  
complexities of a global industry and it costs $1,732 per ton to produce pri- posted positive gains in demand and  
the strategic missteps of large-scale mary aluminum, the report finds. The revenue.”  
producers in response to the develop- global average cost per ton is $1,348.  
In 2014, U.S. aluminum shipments  
ment of the Chinese aluminum indus- In China, it’s $1,374; in Canada, it’s were up 36 percent compared to  
try.” Instead, Breeden argues that the $1,212; and in Russia it’s $1,268.  
rise of the Chinese aluminum industry Additionally, the U.S. aluminum  
2009, the report said.  
Finally, Breeden argues that more  
has “exposed existing disadvantages market has shifted over the past 20 tariffs and trade restrictions against  
and vulnerabilities experienced by years from upstream production to the Chinese aluminum won’t resurrect the  
U.S. producers.”  
downstream markets.  
U.S. industry.  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | October 2016  
read. “Float glass plants operate at extremely high tem-  
peratures, continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,  
throughout their operational life. All float glass plants  
must be temporarily shut down at the end of their op-  
erational life in order to undergo major repairs requir-  
ing specialized and technical expertise. Contrary to  
what has been asserted by the Venezuelan government,  
Guardian Venezuela never abandoned or closed its oper-  
ations. Guardian has warned the Venezuelan government  
of the grave safety risks to plant employees and the com-  
munity in general should it continue to operate the plant  
without completing major repairs.”  
The company also stated, “Guardian and its affiliates  
cannot be responsible for the safety of employees or any  
liability or damages resulting from the government’s con-  
tinued operation of the plant.  
“Should the Venezuelan government produce and sell  
glass from the plant, Guardian cannot be held responsible  
for product quality and will consider any use of Guardian’s  
name, Guardian product names, or Guardian trademarks  
to be unauthorized and a misappropriation.  
Throughout this process, Guardian and Guardian Ven-  
ezuela have acted to protect the safety and best interests of  
plant employees and the community.  
“Guardian Industries Corp., Guardian Industries Na-  
varra SL, Guardian de Venezuela SRL and their affiliates  
continue to reserve their rights under all applicable laws  
and treaties.”  
Since the takeover in late July, Venezuela’s government  
has claimed that Guardian closed the facility weeks ago  
as part of an “economic war” U.S. businesses are waging  
against the country, a catch-all claim that officials in Vene-  
zuela have been making for years. However, most analysts  
cite the collapse of global oil prices, combined with the  
country’s disastrous socialist economic policies, for caus-  
ing drastic shortages of raw materials and skyrocketing  
inflation that the International Monetary Fund says could  
hit 1,640 percent by 2017, according to Business Insider.  
To prevent a popular uprising, the government de-  
clared a state of emergency in mid-May and ordered the  
state seizure of factories that have closed because they  
can’t get raw materials. For example, Venezuela seized a  
Kimberly-Clark plant in July after the U.S. diaper maker  
shut down because of deteriorating economic conditions  
in the country.  
According to proclamations from the Venezuelan gov-  
ernment, the Guardian plant is now under the control of  
a special administrative council that will run the facility  
for one year. The council will have three worker repre-  
sentatives and one from the Ministry of Industry and  
Commerce. They will be assisted by another person to be  
named by the Ministry of Labor. n —Trey Barrineau  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | October 2016