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. 
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Four days after President Trump signed a memorandum directing the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) to determine whether to initiate a Section 301 investigation of Chinese laws, policies, practices, or actions that may be harming the intellectual property rights of U.S. persons, USTR Lighthizer formally announced the initiation of an investigation on August 18, 2017.

The public is encouraged to participate in the investigation by submitting comments and appearing at a public hearing in Washington, DC.  Comments and requests to appear at the hearing must be submitted by Thursday, September 28, 2017. The public hearing will be held in the main hearing room of the U.S. International Trade Commission (“USITC”) on Tuesday, October 10, 2017.
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On August 10th, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) unanimously determined that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of unfairly traded imports of low melt polyester staple fiber (“PSF”) from Korea and Taiwan.  Low melt PSF is a synthetic (manmade) staple fiber, not carded, combed or otherwise processed for spinning, made entirely of polyester.  It can be used in nonwoven products for a broad spectrum of downstream industries, including automotive (door trim, dash pads, wheel guards, carpets, trunk and hood liners), industrial purposes (soundproofing and insulation for construction, water and air filtration), and hygienic products (wipes, diapers, sanitary and medical goods, etc.). 
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According to a White House Statement issued on June 26th, President Donald Trump intends to nominate two important trade positions within the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) and the International Trade Commission (“USITC”).

  • Peter B. Davidson, Senior Vice President for Congressional Relations at Verizon Communications, was selected by President Trump to be general counsel of Commerce.  Prior to Verizon, Mr. Davidson served as General Counsel to the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”).  He has also served as Vice President for Congressional Relations at USWEST and Qwest, and General Counsel and Policy Director to the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives.  Mr. Davidson earned his bachelor’s degree at Carleton College, and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.
  • Jason Kearns was selected to be a Commissioner of the USITC for the remainder of a 9 year term expiring December 16, 2024.  Mr. Kearns currently serves as Chief International Trade Counsel (Democratic Staff) to the Committee on Ways and Means in the House of Representatives.  In this position, Mr. Kearns advises Members of Congress on legislation concerning trade and oversight issues involving the USTR and other agencies involved in international trade policy and regulation.  Before that, he served for three years in the Office of the General Counsel to the USTR.  From 2000 through 2003, Mr. Kearns worked in the international trade group of the law firm, WilmerHale.  Kearns has a master’s in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver.


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Commissioner F. Scott Kieff has announced that he will leave the ITC at the end of this month to return to his positions at the George Washington University School of Law and Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.  Commissioner Kieff’s last day at the ITC will be June 30, 2017.  Kieff has served as an ITC Commissioner

On June 2nd, the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) voted to continue the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland.  The ITC’s preliminary vote finding a reasonable indication that the domestic industry is material injured by reason of imports from the six countries was unanimous.  As a result of the affirmative preliminary injury finding, the Commerce Department will continue its respective investigations to determine whether cold-drawn mechanical tubing from each of the six countries is being unfairly subsidized and/or sold at less than fair value.  The petitions for trade relief, filed on April 19th, allege margins of dumping that range from the double digits to the triple digits for certain countries, including China, Germany, and Switzerland.  The countervailing duty petitions for China and India identify numerous subsidy programs including, for example, export loans, credit and insurance at preferential rates, preferential tax treatment, and government grants.  The ITC and Commerce Department are expected to issue their final determinations by or before early next year. 
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The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 (“AMCA”) established a new process for the submission and evaluation of requests for temporary duty suspensions and reductions.  Under the AMCA, petitions for duty suspensions and reductions are filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission (“Commission” or “USITC”), and the Commission, with input from other federal agencies, reviews each petition.  The Commission must submit preliminary and final reports to two Congressional committees (the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance).  Following the final report’s submission, the Committees will draft a miscellaneous tariff bill (“MTB”).  Once the MTB passes, the temporary duty suspensions or reductions will be take effect for a period not to exceed three years. The process will repeat again in a second series, no later than October 15, 2019.

In the first series, over 3,100 petitions were submitted to the ITC through its online Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Petition System (“MTBPS”).  Due to petition withdrawals, 2,500 petitions still are under consideration.  On June 6, 2017, the Commission issued its preliminary report to the Committees, entitled:  American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016: Preliminary Report, USITC Pub. 4699 (USITC June 2017).  
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