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.

What are Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum?

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This post is in response to many queries we have received since last week’s announcement by President Trump of new tariffs effective March 23rd on aluminum and steel imports to the US under Section 232.

A Section 232 investigation is conducted under the authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The original purpose of a 232 investigation was to determine whether or not the import affects national security. The investigations are started based on an application from an interested party (usually a domestic producer), at the request of any department or agency head, or it may be self-initiated by the Secretary of Commerce.

The Secretary of Commerce then prepares a report to the President focusing on whether the importation of the article in question is in such quantities or under circumstances that threaten to impair national security. If the import impairs national security, the President can concur or not with the Secretary’s recommendations and take action to “adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives” or other non-trade related actions as deemed necessary.

The Secretary’s report to the President, prepared within 270 days of initiation, focuses on whether the importation of the article in question is in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security. The President can concur or not with the Secretary’s recommendations, and take action to “adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives” or other non-trade related actions as deemed necessary.

The last section 232 investigation occurred in 2001 regarding iron ore and semi-finished steel.

Last week, President Trump imposed a 25% global tariff on steel imports and a 10% global tariff on:

Aluminum imports, including the following products:
7601.10 Aluminum, Not Alloyed, Unwrought
7601.20 Aluminum Alloys, Unwrought
7604 Aluminum bars, rods and profiles
7605 Aluminum wire
7606 Aluminum plates, sheets and strip, over 0.2mm
7607 Aluminum foil (whether or not printed or backed with paper or other backing materials)
7608 Aluminum tubes and pipes
7609 Aluminum tube or pipe fittings
7616.99.5160 and 7616.99.5170 Aluminum castings

Steel products within the broad scope of the global tariffs:
Carbon and alloy flat products;
Carbon and alloy long products;
Carbon and alloy pipe and tube products;
Carbon and alloy semi-finished products;
Stainless steel products.

If you have any questions about whether or not your imports may be subject to these new duties after March 23rd, contact AD/CVD attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

Taiwan requests WTO consultations with the US over the Trump administration’s tariffs on solar cells.

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After the Trump administration announced tariffs on solar modules and cell manufacturers for the next 5 years with tariff rates starting at 30%, Taiwan submitted a request for a consultation with the US regarding these duties.

Taiwan’s January 29th filing states:

“Having a substantial interest as an exporter in this case, the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu requests consultations with United States under Article 12.3 of the Agreement on Safeguards with a view to, inter alia, exchanging views on the proposed measure and reaching an understanding on ways to achieve the objective set out in Article 8.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards,”

Taiwan is also one of the world’s leading PV manufacturing industries and approximately 13 GW of solar cell manufacturing capability.

More updates to follow if and when a consultation occurs.

If your company imports solar modules and PV cells subject to these dumping rates or you want to know whether your imports are within the scope of the order, call experienced antidumping and countervailing duty attorney David Hsu for a free consultation, 832-896-6288, dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Bassett Mirror Company to pay $10.5 million for allegations of evading customs duties.

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According to a January 16, 2018 Department of Justice press release – Virginia based home furniture company, Bassett Mirror Company (Bassett) will pay $10.5 million to resolve allegations that Bassett violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by “knowingly making false statements on customs declarations to avoid paying antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from the People’s Republic of China (PRC)”.

Wooden bedroom furniture from the People’s Republic Of China is covered under case number: A-570-890 and the scope includes:


The product covered by the order is wooden bedroom furniture. Wooden bedroom furniture is generally, but not exclusively, designed, manufactured, and offered for sale in coordinated groups, or bedrooms, in which all of the individual pieces are of approximately the same style and approximately the same material and/or finish. The subject merchandise is made substantially of wood products, including both solid wood and also engineered wood products made from wood particles, fibers, or other wooden materials such as plywood, oriented strand board, particle board, and fiberboard, with or without wood veneers, wood overlays, or laminates, with or without non-wood components or trim such as metal, marble, leather, glass, plastic, or other resins, and whether or not assembled, completed, or finished.

Since 2004, imports of wooden beddroom furniture from China have been subject to dumping duties and the current PRC rate is 216 percent.

The US Department of Justice alleged that for a five year period (2009 to 2014), Bassett evaded payment of antidumping duties owed by misclassifying the furniture as non-bedroom furniture on import documents. By classifying imports as “non-bedroom furniture”, Bassett avoiding paying the duty rate of 216%.

In general, antidumping duties are imposed against foreign companies for “dumping” products into the US market at prices below cost. Most of the foreign companies are located in “non market economy” countries such as People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. By imposing anti dumping duties on goods, the US Department of Commerce is attempting to protect US businesses and “level the playing field” for domestically manufactured products.

Given the current administration in the White House, we can expect the Department of Justice, CBP, and Commerce to further strengthen their enforcement of antidumping duties for any and all goods entering the US.

If you are not sure whether your imports from China are considered “wooden bedroom furniture, or if you have been alleged to violate the false claims act by misclassifying imports, avoiding payment of duties or any other import and export related claim from the US government, contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com immediately. There is no cost for the initial consultation and in most instances, time limits to take action are running – don’t miss your chance, contact us today.

USITC Votes to Continue Investigations on Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet from China.

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According to News Release 18-008 from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) website (found here), the USITC voted to continue investigations on common alloy aluminum sheet from China. The USITC typically continues investigations if they believe there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured due to imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China. The “material injury” results because the USITC believes the manufacturing of aluminum sheet is being subsidized and sold in the US at a cost lower than “fair value”.

A continuation of an investigation means the US Department of Commerce (Commerce) will continue antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. The due date for the preliminary countervailing duty determination is due February 1, 2018. The antidumping duy determination is due on April 17, 2018.

The investigation of common alloy aluminum sheet from China can be found in Investigation Numbers 701-TA-591 and 731-TA-1399, publication number 4757, dated January 2018.

If you have any questions about these orders, or want to know if any of the products you import may be subject to dumping, please feel free to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

January 11, 2018 – Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews.

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As posted in the Federal Register here, the U.S. Department of Commerce is initiating administrative reviews on multiple antidumping and countervailing duty orders:

Antidumping Duty Proceedings:
India: Welded Stainless Pressure Pipe A-533-876
Indonesia: Monosodium Glutamate A-560-826
Mexico: Certain Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipes and Tubes A-201-805
Mexico: Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bar A-201-844
Republic of Korea: Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe A-580-809
Taiwan: Certain Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe A-583-814
The People’s Republic of China: Diamond Sawblades and Parts Thereof A-570-900
The People’s Republic of China: Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products A-570-865
The People’s Republic of China: Fresh Garlic A-570-831
The People’s Republic of China: Monosodium Glutamate A-570-992
The People’s Republic of China: Polyethlene Terephthalate (Pet) Film A-570-924
The People’s Republic of China: Seamless Refined Copper Pipe and Tube A-570-964
United Arab Emirates: Polyethylene Terephthalate (Pet) Film A-520-803

Countervailing Duty Proceedings
India: Welded Stainless Pressure Pipe C-533-868
The People’s Republic of China: Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires 7 C-570-017
The People’s Republic of China: Chlorinated Isocyanurates C-570-991 1/1/16-12/31/16
Turkey: Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bar C-489-819

If you have any questions about administrative reviews or general antidumping and countervailing duty questions, feel free to call us at anytime: 832.896.6288 or contact us by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

U.S. Department of Commerce Issues Preliminary Antidumping Duties On Chinese Solar Cells.

pexels-photo-371900.jpegYesterday I posted about countervailing duties on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells; today’s solar panel post is about the preliminary results of the antidumping review and preliminary duties on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, From the People’s Republic of China.

The Department of Commerce (Commerce) conducted an administrative review of the antidumping duty order on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules (solar cells), from the People’s Republic of China (China) and looked at imports from December 1, 2015, through November 30, 2016 (Period of Review, POR).

The scope of the antidumping review covered “crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and modules, laminates, and panels, consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including, but not limited to, modules, laminates, panels and building integrated materials. Merchandise covered by this order is classifiable under subheadings 8501.61.0000, 8507.20.80, 8541.40.6020, 8541.40.6030, and 8501.31.8000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).”

Commerce typically covers multiple mandatory respondents. However, in the instant review, the administrative review covered only mandatory respondent, Trina Solar (Hefei) Science and Technology Co., Ltd (Trina). Commerce treated the various Trina entities: Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd./Trina Solar (Changzhou) Science and Technology Co., Ltd./Yancheng Trina Solar Energy Technology Co., Ltd./Changzhou Trina Solar Yabang Energy Co., Ltd./Turpan Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd./Hubei Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd., as one single entity.

As a result of their review, Commerce preliminary found that Trina sold subject merchandise in the United States at prices below normal value during the Period of Review and is therefore subject to a duty of 61.61%.

All other exporters of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells will be subject to the China-wide entity rate of 238.95%.

As the findings are preliminary, interested parties still have 30 days from January 9th, 2018 to submit case briefs.

The entity wide rate of 238.95% for imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells from China highlight why it is important for all manufacturers, producers, exporters, importers or other interested parties to enter an appearance with Commerce and request a review, file a separate rate application or certification, scope requests, or other actions to protect their interests.

The full notice from the Federal Register can be found here.

If you are a producer, importer, exporter of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and have any questions about how these preliminary ADD/CVD orders effect your company and business, call David Hsu’s office at 713.932.1540, mobile phone at 832.896.6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

U.S. Department of Commerce Issues Preliminary Duties On Chinese Solar Cells.

pexels-photo-356049.jpegIn a notice posted on the Federal Register here, the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) has preliminarily found that “Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, From the People’s Republic of China”, will be subject to preliminary countervailing duties.

Commerce determined that countervailable subsidies are being provided to producers and exporters of crystalline silicon photoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules (solar cells) from the People’s Republic of China (China).

The scope of the order covers crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and modules, laminates, and panels, consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including, but not limited to, modules, laminates, panels, and building integrated materials.

The two mandatory respondents and their respective subsidy rates include Canadian Solar Inc. and its Cross-Owned Affiliates - 13.72% and Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd. and its Cross-Owned Affiliates - 10.93%. Non-selected companies under review have a subsidy rate of 12.64%

If you or someone you know imports crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells from China and they have questions about how this order affects them, please call David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.