Last week, the Department of Commerce (the “Department”) initiated two new Section 232 proceedings on mobile cranes and electrical transformer components. Section 232, a previously seldom used section of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, is used to investigate the impact of certain imports on national security and provide relief if those imports threaten to impair U.S. national security. During the Trump Administration, Section 232 has been used to investigate imports of steel, aluminum, automobiles (and parts), titanium sponge, and uranium. Under Section 232, President Trump has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The investigation on electrical transformer components will cover laminations for stacked cores for incorporation into transformers, stacked and wound cores for incorporation into transformers, electrical transformers, and transformer regulators. Transformers are an essential part of the U.S. energy infrastructure. The Department’s press release notes that “[a]n assured domestic supply of these products enables the United States to respond to large power disruptions affecting civilian populations, critical infrastructure, and U.S. defense industrial production capabilities.” Several members of Congress had previously urged the Administration to initiate proceedings.

The investigation on mobile cranes follows a petition filed by domestic producer The Manitowoc Company, Inc. (“Manitowoc”), according to the Department’s press release. That petition, filed in December, alleges that “increased
Continue Reading Commerce Launches 232 Investigations on Transformer Components and Mobile Cranes

Late last week, China filed a request with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) for authorization to “suspend concessions and related obligations” in the amount of $2.4 billion as recourse for the United States’ alleged failure to comply with a 2015 dispute settlement report.  The disagreement stems from a dispute filed by China in May 2012 challenging certain aspects of 17 countervailing duty investigations by the United States, on a wide range of products, as conducted by the Department of Commerce (DS437).  The decision reached by a WTO panel, as modified by the WTO Appellate Body and adopted by the DSB in January 2015, included a number of findings in favor of and against the United States.  In particular, the WTO Appellate Body found that Commerce’s “rebuttable presumption” that Chinese state-owned enterprises are public bodies, and that Commerce’s rejection of Chinese private transaction prices as distorting the benchmark for the “provisions of goods or services for less than adequate remuneration” benefit analysis, were inconsistent with WTO rules.

In May 2016, China returned to the WTO to request consultations with the United States under Article 21.5 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU), which establishes procedures for when parties disagree about whether the losing party has implemented the DSB’s recommendations and rulings.  Failed consultations led to the establishment of a compliance panel, which issued a decision in March 2018.  Both China and the United States appealed to the WTO Appellate Body.  In July 2019, the Appellate Body upheld the compliance panel’s
Continue Reading China Requests $2.4 Billion in Relief After WTO Ruling Against United States

The Enforce and Protect Act (“EAPA”), signed into law as part of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, established procedures for a wide variety of stakeholders to submit allegations of evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”).  After several years, it appears this new tool for addressing evasion of duties has started to take off.

CBP’s Trade and Travel Report for Fiscal Year 2018 relates a significant uptick in the agency’s investigative work stemming from EAPA allegations.  In particular, CBP received nearly double the allegations in fiscal year 2018 that it received in fiscal year 2017.  The agency also issued final determinations in 12 investigations, up from only 1 the year before.  Despite the uptick in work, CBP touts having “met every statutory deadline for all EAPA investigations,” even rendering decisions ahead of statutory deadlines in some cases, and proclaims that this process has “proven to be a success{}.”  CBP’s bullish outlook should encourage even more stakeholders to come forward with allegations and to participate in the process.
Continue Reading AD/CVD Evasion Enforcement Uptick in 2018

On July 10, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that his office will investigate under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (“Section 301”) whether France’s new digital tax law unfairly targets American businesses and restricts American commerce.  Section 301 affords the USTR broad authority to investigate and respond to unfair trade practices of

If you watched the first Democratic Presidential candidates debate for a discussion of the candidates’ positions on trade, you are likely to be disappointed. The differences among the Democratic candidates and between them and President Trump will undoubtedly emerge as the campaign proceeds, but the first round of debates shed little light on their positions.

On Friday, May 17th, the Trump Administration announced that it has reached a deal with Canada and Mexico to eliminate national security-focused Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum (at 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively) from Canada and Mexico.  According to a joint statement by the United States and Canada, US.

In response to Congressional concerns, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) has agreed to review the process by which the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) has been processing steel and aluminum tariff exclusion requests.  On March 8, 2018, President Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum

On May 23, 2018, Commerce Secretary Ross initiated an investigation into whether imports into the United States of automobiles and auto parts threaten to impair the national security.  A link to the press release announcing the initiation of the investigation is available here.

As it did during its recent 232 investigations concerning U.S. imports

Last week, South Korea requested consultations with the United States at the WTO, launching a significant dispute that challenges both individual investigations and administrative reviews conducted by the Commerce Department, as well as broader aspects of U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty law.  Korea’s broader “as such” challenge targets provisions of U.S. law, including the 2015

On February 14, Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Richard Burr (R-NC) jointly introduced the S. 2427, the Self-Initiations Trade Enforcement Act.  If enacted, the legislation would give the Department of Commerce greater leniency to self-initiate investigations of unfair trade practices that harm U.S.  producers by creating a permanent taskforce at the International Trade