ITC preliminary determination on aluminum wire and cable from China.

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According to Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., the International Trade Commission (ITC) preliminarily ruled that aluminum wire and cable from China receive government subsidies such as tax breaks, loans and grants. The lower cost of production to these goods from China are “dumped” to the US thereby hurting US manufacturers.

A preliminary determination is one step towards the implementation of anti-dumping and countervailing duties. Countervailing duties are to counteract any subsidies that may be given to foreign manufacturers.

Two US companies – Encore Wire and Southwire Co. petitioned the ITC to assess duties on goods for China because (1) the margins of wire and cable from China are up to 63.47 percent and (2) Chinese producers receive government subsidies, tax breaks, loans and grants. These two factors allow Chinese companies to have a competitive advantage against U.S. manufacturers.

According to the article, the US imported about 157.2 million worth of wire and cable from China in 2017 alone.

Besides the just passed preliminary stage, the next state is a “final determination” phase that determines whether the imported steel and

The U.S. will only impose anti-dumping or countervailing duties if Commerce makes a final determination that the imports were sold in the U.S. at less than fair value or unfairly subsidized, and the ITC makes a final determination that the imports seriously hurt or threaten U.S. industry.

Check back for more news as it becomes available. If you have any anti dumping or countervailing duty questions, please do not hesitate to call me at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.

Importer pays $500,000 fine for false claims to evade customs duties.

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Earlier in February of this year, the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs released news of a settlement by Home Furnishings Resource Group Inc. agreement to pay $500,000 in settlement for False Claims Act allegations.

Background:
Home Furnishings Resource Group Inc. (HFRG) agreed to pay the $500,000 after they were alleged to have violated the False Claims Act on customs declarations in order to avoid paying antidumping duties (ADD) on “wooden bedroom furniture” imported from China.

Customs alleged the Hermitage, Tennessee company did not pay antidumping duties from 2009 to 2014 by misclassifying furniture as “non-bedroom” on import documents. By misclassifying as “non-bedroom”, HFRG did not pay the required ADD on wooden-bedroom furniture.

Why do we have antidumping duties?
Antidumping duties protect American manufacturers against foreign companies who make the same goods at a price below cost and “dump” the products into the US. The Department of Commerce (Commerce) is responsible for assessing whether goods are dumped into the US – and if so, assign an ADD amount to those imported goods.

The addition of a duty for these goods is to protect U.S. businesses and “level the playing field for domestic companies”.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) then collects these duties – wooden bedroom furntiure’s ADD rate was 216% and non-bedroom furniture was not subject to any duty.

How was HFRG caught?
University Loft Company, a competitor of HFRG, used the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, permitting private parties to sue on behalf of the US against those who falsely claim federal funds or, as in this case, who avoid paying funds owed to the government. The act also allows the whistleblower to receive a share of any funds recovered. University Loft Company will receive approximately $75,000.

Do you know anyone violating the False Claims Act?
If you believe an importer has been misclassifying goods to avoid payment of duties, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

U.S. Department of Commerce Finds Dumping of Imports of Fine Denier Polyester Staple Fiber from China, India, Korea, and Taiwan.

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Image of denier polyester staple fiber courtesy of the Tianjin Glory Tang Technology Co., Ltd.

According to a U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) news release – the Commerce Department announced the affirmative final determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of fine denier polyester staple fiber from China, India, Korea, and Taiwan.

Commerce determined that exporters from China, India, Korea, and Taiwan sold fine denier polyester staple fiber in the United States at less than fair value. The dumping margins determined by Commerce are as follows:

China – 65.17 – 103.06 percent
India – 21.43 percent
Korea – 0 – 45.23 percent
Taiwan – 0 – 48.86 percent

With today’s decision, Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of fine denier polyester staple fiber from China, India, Korea, and Taiwan based on the final rates, as appropriate.

I find it ironic, one of the petitioners is Nan Ya Plastics Corporation, America – a company that previously imported fine denier polyester staple fiber.

One interested statistic in the Commerce release – the Trump administration has 114 new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations since the beginning of the administration compared to the the 64 initiations in the last 489 days of the previous administration.

If you are an importer of fine denier polyster staple fiber from China, India, Korea or Taiwan and have questions how this decision may impact your business, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Commerce Department issues affirmative final circumvention ruling on steel from Vietnam.

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According to a May 21, 2018 news release on the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) website – the Commerce department announced an affirmative ruling on corrosion-resistant steel (CORE) and certain cold-rolled steel flat products (cold-rolled steel) imported from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnam) produced from substrate originating in the People’s Republic of China (China) are circumventing the antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders on CORE and cold-rolled steel imported from China.

In order to avoid payment of duties, some manufacturers ship goods to another country not subject to duties, and from there send the goods to the United States. This practice is known as “transshipment” and we will likely hear more reports of transshipment as manufacturers look for ways to avoid the steel and aluminum duties.

While the steel here is produced in Vietnam, Commerce found circumvention of AD/CVD orders did occur because the subject merchandise is the same class or kind of merchandise subject to existing orders and completed or assembled in a third party country prior to importation to the US.

Commerce will notify Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to continue collecting cash deposits on imports of CORE and cold-rolled steel produced in Vietnam using Chinese-origin materials at an AD rate of 199.43 percent and CVD rate of 39.05 percent.

CBP will also collect AD and CVD cash deposits on imports of cold-rolled steel produced in Vietnam using Chinese-origin substrate at rates of 199.76 percent and 256.44 percent, respectively.

If you have any questions about this or any other AD/CVD order, call experienced antidumping attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Givens and Johnston will give an AD/CVD presentation to the HCBFFA.

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On Wednesday, May 23, 2018, Scott Johnston, James Garland Hurst and Luis Arandia of Givens and Johnston, PLLC will present a half-day program regarding Anti Dumping/ Countervailing Duties.

Topics covered include:

1. What are orders

2. Overview

  • a. Process
  • b. Scopes
  • c. Updates

3. Meaning of Case numbers

4. How to Research AD / CVD

5. Scope Determinations

6. Administrative Review

7. Petitions

8. What is Critical Circumstances

9. CBP Role in AD / CVD

10. Origin irregularities

11. Collection

12. Sunset Reviews

13. Other Trade Remedies

14. Section 232 – 301

15. Current Trade Issues

CCS / CES Point Information:  

This event has been approved for 3.5 NCBFAA CCS points.

For more details and to register, visit HCBFFA.org

 

US Department of Commerce initiates antidumping and countervailing investigations on certain quartz surface products from China.

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On May 7, 2018, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) initiated its less-than-fair-value and countervailing duty investigations on “Certain Quartz Surface Products from the People’s Republic of China (China)” (Initiation Notices). These investigations have been assigned the following case numbers: A-570-084 and C-570-085.

Scope Description:

According to the Commerce Department, the scope of the certain quartz surface products from China are covers:


The merchandise covered by the investigation is certain quartz surface products. 1
Quartz surface products consist of slabs and other surfaces created from a mixture of materials that includes predominately silica (e.g., quartz, quartz powder, cristobalite) as well as a resin binder (e.g., an unsaturated polyester). The incorporation of other materials, including, but not limited to, pigments, cement, or other additives does not remove the merchandise from the scope of the investigation. However, the scope of the investigation only includes products where the silica content is greater than any other single material, by actual weight. Quartz surface products are typically sold as rectangular slabs with a total surface area of approximately 45 to 60 square feet and a nominal thickness of one, two, or three centimeters. However, the scope of this investigation includes surface products of all other sizes, thicknesses, and shapes. In addition to slabs, the scope of this investigation includes, but is not limited to, other surfaces such as countertops, backsplashes, vanity tops, bar tops, work tops, tabletops, flooring, wall facing, shower surrounds, fire place surrounds, mantels, and tiles. Certain quartz surface products are covered by the investigation whether polished or unpolished, cut or uncut, fabricated or not fabricated, cured or uncured, edged or not edged, finished or unfinished, thermoformed or not thermoformed, packaged or unpackaged, and regardless of the type of surface finish.

In addition, quartz surface products are covered by the investigation whether or not they are imported attached to, or in conjunction with, non-subject merchandise such as sinks, sink bowls, vanities, cabinets, and furniture. If quartz surface products are imported attached to, or in conjunction with, such non-subject merchandise, only the quartz surface product is covered by the scope.

Subject merchandise includes material matching the above description that has been finished, packaged, or otherwise fabricated in a third country, including by cutting, polishing, curing, edging, thermoforming, attaching to, or packaging with another product, or any other finishing, packaging, or fabrication that would not otherwise remove the merchandise from the scope of the investigation if performed in the country of manufacture of the quartz surface products.

Not covered by the scope of the investigation:


The scope of the investigation does not cover quarried stone surface products, such as granite, marble, soapstone, or quartzite. Specifically excluded from the scope of the investigation are crushed glass surface products. Crushed glass surface products are surface products in which the crushed glass content is greater than any other single material, by actual weight.

Applicable HTSUS numbers subject to the scope of the investigation:


The products subject to the scope are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under the following subheading: 6810.99.0010. Subject merchandise may also enter under subheadings 6810.11.0010, 6810.11.0070, 6810.19.1200, 6810.19.1400, 6810.19.5000, 6810.91.0000, 6810.99.0080, 6815.99.4070, 2506.10.0010, 2506.10.0050, 2506.20.0010, 2506.20.0080. The HTSUS subheadings set forth above are provided for convenience and U.S. Customs purposes only. The written description of the scope is dispositive.

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1
Quartz surface products may also generally be referred to as engineered stone or quartz, artificial stone or quartz, agglomerated stone or quartz, synthetic stone or quartz, processed stone or quartz, manufactured stone or quartz, and Bretonstone®.

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If you have any questions about how the AD/CVD investigation will impact your quartz import business, or if you would like to discuss other options, contact the experienced antdiumping and countervailing duty attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Trump delays decision on steel and aluminium tariffs.

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A little background – back in March 2018, President Trump imposed worldwide tariffs of 25% on imports of steel and 10% on aluminum. Countries such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union were temporarily exempted from these tariffs.

Later in April, the US gave South Korea a permanent exemption from these tariffs in exchange for a 30% reduction of SK exports of steel to the United States.

One country not exempted was China, and as posted previously on this blog, China retaliated with their own duties on many US imports to the middle kingdom.

Fast forward to May 1st and the current administration has extended negotiations on steel and aluminium tariffs for an additional 30 days with Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Tentative agreements have been reached with Argentina, Brazil and Australia.

Check back here for more details as they become available.

US Treasury Secretary Mnunchin may travel to Beijing for trade talks.

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77th United States Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin

Earlier this week, current US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters he may travel to Beijing for trade negotiations to ease U.S.-China tensions.

In recent weeks both countries have announced tariffs on goods imported from the other country and the tensions between the US and China (the world’s two largest trading partners) has raised concerns of an impending trade war. The US first proposed tariffs totaling $150 billion on Chinese imports and Beijing has proposed tariffs on American goods such as soybeans.

In response, the Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China would “welcome” the move by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.

More updates as they become available.

EU wants to participate in the US-China steel dispute at the WTO.

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As previously posted on this blog, China requested consultations with the WTO regarding the US import tariffs on steel and aluminum. Requesting a consultation with the WTO is the first stage in the dispute process with the WTO and now the EU asked on April 23rd to join the dispute.

It is important to note that one week from now, President Trump will decide whether these tariffs would apply to imports from the EU. A temporary exemption from the 25% duty on steel and 10% duty on aluminum was granted for the EU until May 1st. Temporary exemptions were also granted to Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina and Brazil. South Korean imports have been exempted indefinitely.

In addition to the EU, Hong Kong, Russia, India and Thailand have also filed requests to join the consultations. Check back for more information as it becomes available.

 

Senate Finance Leaders Ask Commerce Secretary to Improve Tariff Exclusion Process.

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Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

According to the Senate Finance Committee website, Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) urged the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to implement improvements to the Commerce Department’s process for excluding products from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

In short, the letter voices concerns that the process lacks “basic due process and procedural fairness for stakeholders, especially American small businesses” and “appropriate mechanisms to prevent the Section 232 tariffs and product exclusion process from being abused for anticompetitive purposes.”

The Senators write the exclusion request process requires submission of a “substantial amount of information at a minute level of detail” for each imported product and may increase the burden for small businesses. Additionally the Senators state the request and objection forms allow for ambiguity by the Commerce department to approve or deny a product. Lastly, Commerce has not specified how to protect business proprietary information, how to address ex parte communications, how to ensure consistent determination across similar petitioners and objectors.

A full text of the letter can be viewed here (scroll to the bottom, full letter in italics).

If you have any questions about the 232 exclusion process, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.