The U.S. Department of Commerce self-initiated antidumping and countervailing investigations of common alloy aluminum sheet from China on November 28.  An accompanying fact sheet estimates dumping margins on the subject merchandise to be between 56.54 and 59.72 percent, and estimates a subsidy rate above de minimis.  Trade cases are typically initiated in response to petitions filed by a domestic industry alleging that dumped or unfairly subsidized goods are being exported to the U.S. market.  Self-initiation authority, however, can be exercised whenever the Secretary determines that a formal trade remedy investigation is warranted based on available information.

The Department’s use of self-initiation authority has been judicious and rare.  In an agency-issued press release Secretary Wilbur Ross stated, “{w}e are self-initiating the first trade case in over a quarter century, showing once again that we stand in constant vigilance in support of free, fair, and reciprocal trade.”  The Department further noted that it last self-initiated a countervailing duty investigation in 1991 on softwood lumber from Canada, and last self-initiated an antidumping duty investigation in 1985 on semiconductors from Japan. 
Continue Reading

The House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on October 25th to discuss the new Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Process – overseen by the U.S. International Trade Commission with input from other federal agencies – to reduce temporarily tariffs on products not made in the United States.  The largely non-controversial hearing was a first step toward paving the way for Congressional consideration of a bill by the end of the year to implement recommendations made by the ITC in its final MTB report issued in August.  Action on the bill in the Senate Finance Committee is anticipated next.
Continue Reading

The AP recently reported that North Koreans are working in China as forced labor and their products are being imported into the U.S.  The AP followed the production of seafood from Chinese facilities to U.S. retailers, but stated that there other affected product categories, including apparel and wood flooring.

While it has been known that North Korea sends workers abroad, this report is the first time the supply chain has been documented to show North Korean forced labor products entering the U.S., which is a federal crime.  It has been reported that North Korea sends tens of thousands abroad, bringing in revenue estimated at $200-$500 million per year as Kim Jong Un keeps a large percentage of the salaries.  According to the AP, the North Korean workers in China remain under constant surveillance and live in forced labor conditions.
Continue Reading

On September 19th, the Department of Commerce announced that they will impose preliminary countervailing duties (“CVD”) on Chinese and Indian exports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel.  See the fact sheet here.

Commerce determined that China and India received countervailable subsidies benefiting the production of mechanical steel tubing from their respective governments.  Previously, on June 2nd, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) had unanimously determined that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of unfairly traded imports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland that are allegedly sold in the United States at less than fair value and subsidized by the governments of China and India.
Continue Reading

Congressional trade committee leaders submitted comments for the ITC to consider in its final Miscellaneous Tariff Bill report due for release in August.  House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Raking Member Richard Neal, along with Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, offered comments based on a review of the ITC’s June-issued preliminary MTB report, which evaluated the eligibility of some 2,500 petitions submitted by U.S. companies seeking duty savings on imported products not made in the United States in accordance with a new process established by the American Manufacturing and Competitiveness Act of 2016.

Continue Reading

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis has released the 2016 figures in their data series on foreign direct investment in U.S. Businesses. This series allows businesses, researchers, and policy makers to gain insights into recent trends in foreign investment. Investments and the employment generated, are broken down by country of origin, industry type, and location of businesses in which the investments were made.  The data are further broken down by whether the investment involves acquisition, establishment, or expansion of a business.
Continue Reading

On Friday June 30, Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, and Director of OMB, Mick Mulvaney, released a memorandum providing guidance to executive departments and agencies that must, pursuant to the directives of President Trump’s April 18th Executive Order entitled “Buy American and Hire American,” undertake an analysis of their administration of applicable Buy American laws.

The memo directs agency chiefs to submit to the Commerce Department and OMB a report that details their assessment of the implementation of Buy American Laws within their agencies by September 15th in compliance with the executive order’s section 3.
Continue Reading

Commerce Secretary Ross and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security held a public hearing on Thursday, June 22, 2017 in the ongoing Section 232 investigation into whether aluminum imports are a threat to U.S. national security.

Witness testimony covered several topics including the negative effects of China’s aluminum overcapacity, the coverage and

On May 25th, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) reached an affirmative preliminary determination, finding that the there is a reasonable indication that domestic industry producing tool chests and cabinets have been injured by unfairly traded imports from China and Vietnam.  Tool chests and cabinets are metal tool storage units, with two or more drawers, typically used by consumers in homes and garages.  As retail products, tool chests and cabinets can generally be purchased at home improvement stores (Lowe’s, Home Depo), department stores (Sears), and other big box retailers (Wal-Mart).  Only two companies – Waterloo Industries Inc. (Sedalia, MO) and Metal Box International (Franklin Park, IL) – continue to produce tool chests and cabinets in the United States.  Kelley Drye represents petitioner Waterloo Industries in this case.

The petition prepared by Kelley Drye, filed on April 11th, alleged that subject imports – at dumping margins of 58.2 (Vietnam) and 167.5 (China) – were able to penetrate the U.S. market and capture an increasing share of the U.S. market by significantly undercutting U.S. prices.  The petition also alleged that as a result of increasing and low-priced imports, the domestic industry has suffered significant declines in production, shipments, prices, and profits.  The ITC held a public preliminary conference on May 2nd to hear testimony from domestic industry, foreign producer, and U.S. importer parties in the investigation.  Based on witness testimony, post-conference briefs, and the data obtained in the case, the Commissioners reached a unanimous affirmative preliminary injury determination.  It will be a couple more weeks until the written views of the Commission on the issues in the case are released to the public.
Continue Reading

The much anticipated free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada going into effect this summer is a terrific opportunity for importers to take advantage of duty savings.  The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”) expands market access for the EU and Canada through comprehensive tariff elimination across all sectors of the economy.

Under CETA, Canada and the EU have committed to eliminate or reduce tariffs on goods imported from the other party, provided they qualify under the CETA rules of origin. Tariffs on 98% of goods including apparel and footwear, industrial products, and fish and seafood and over 93% of food and agriculture goods will be eliminated immediately upon entry into force of the agreement.  Tariffs on the additional tariff lines will be eliminated gradually within seven years.  The EU and Canada have both signed and ratified the agreement and we expect an announcement prior to July 1, 2017.  At that time, tariff reductions/elimination will go into effect.
Continue Reading