December 6, 2017

Commerce Resumes Trade Crackdowns

As the Section 232 case continues to languish in Beltway limbo and NAFTA renegotiations are proceeding along almost without notice, it could be assumed that trade has dropped as a priority issue in Washington. Two announcements over the past two weeks should change that perception.

The Commerce Department launched a self-initiated antidumping and countervailing duty investigation on imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China. It represents the first self-initiated trade case in a quarter-century. Perhaps more important, to the aluminum industry, it signifies an understanding by the Commerce Department of the significant issues involved with Chinese overcapacity and questionable government actions relating to the country’s production industry.

Not surprisingly, the Aluminum Association was delighted by the announcement.

“The Aluminum Association and its members enthusiastically support the decision announced by the Department of Commerce and Secretary Wilbur Ross to self-initiate unfair trade investigations concerning imports of common alloy sheet from China,” says Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the association. “We are extremely grateful for the efforts and leadership of Secretary Ross in vigorously enforcing the U.S. trade laws. The Aluminum Association and its members seek to help ensure that common alloy sheet from China entering the United States is fairly traded.”

Commerce estimated a dumping margin in the high 50 percent range for imports of Chinese common alloy sheet. Additionally, the department will investigate whether the Chinese government is providing subsidies to its domestic sheet producers.

The Commerce Department followed that determination up this week with a preliminary ruling on circumvention petitions filed by American steel producers in September 2016. The ruling finds that Chinese steel finished in Vietnam is covered by U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports from China. Circumvention of cold-rolled and galvanized products through Vietnam has been a major source of contention for the industry since the duties were initially imposed.

“The Commerce Department’s finding of circumvention represents a critical step to shutting down one of the many paths used to flood the U.S. with dumped and subsidized steel. This decision presents an encouraging sign for the steel industry and should put other countries and companies on notice that their cheating will no longer be tolerated,” a statement from U.S. Steel announced.



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Wednesday, January 17, 2018