Steel Products Prices North America

Lets Talk Anti-Dumping Trade Case (Part 2)

Written by John Packard

The article below was originally published on March 19, 2014 (SMU Volume 10, Issue 34) and it deals with the questions that we are sure many of you are asking yourselves this morning, how does the anti-dumping and countervailing duty systems work especially the timeline for action by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission. We have modified the original article slightly so as to not confuse our readers and to keep the focus on the current corrosion resistant petition. We also added to the article slightly in order to provide specific dates that everyone should be aware:

One of our readers wanted to know:

“I have a timeline question for you concerning anti-dumping cases. I know that a dumping order requires both dumping (found by the Commerce Dept.) and injury (found by the International Trade Commission) for a penalty to be applied.
If a case is launched, what is the typical timeline for dumping to be found or not? If it is found, what is the typical timeline for the ITC to then rule on injury?
If both dumping and injury are found, then what is the timeline for the anti-dumping rate to be defined and when is it back applicable to?  For instance, if China is found for thin gauge sheet galvanized steel, and a 20% anti-dumping rate is applied, when is it applicable to?  Does it go back to the date the Commerce Department finds that dumping is occurring, or is it some other date?”

Here is [David Phelps, former president of the AIIS] attempt to explain how Anti-Dumping (AD) works:

1.   Suspension of liquidation is the key issue.  What “liquidated” means is that Customs finalizes the entry and as a transaction, the deal is over.  That is a “liquidated” entry and one cannot owe Customs any more money unless it is determined that there is fraud involved in the entry.  If Customs “suspends liquidation” it is because they need more information — in this case, the final determination of the DOC as to what the anti-dumping duty is.

2.   Commerce sets the date of the suspension of liquidation when it makes the preliminary determination of anti-dumping margins.  That follows, as I said previously, at the 45 day mark when the ITC determines preliminarily whether there is injury to the domestic industry.  The chances of importers winning at the ITC in the preliminary round are slim, but it does happen.

[SMU Note: we spoke with a trade attorney this morning  who told us that it is almost a given that the case will move forward]

3.   As to what happens to steel that is on order or on the ship on the actual date that DOC determines is the suspension of liquidation date, the answer is tough.  If the product has been entered, it does not owe the duty, if it is on the ship or on order, tough luck.  You owe the preliminary margin deposit.  Importers do lots of things to make this happen before the earliest date, changing port of entry, or canceling the order.  The risks are far too high.  They also look for new suppliers of course, not covered by the case or the old cases.  
4.   70 days after the date of the filing is the earliest date because DOC, at the 160 date mark for its preliminary margin announcement for anti-dumping, can decide that “critical circumstances” applies and move the date of suspension of liquidation back 90 days.  DOC makes the decision to announce critical circumstances often, but the ITC has the final say at the very end of the case.  The ITC has always said no on steel, which would mean that the imports caught up in the time frame of 70-160 days would get their money back.  If you get the impression that the DOC is the domestic industry’s lap dog on this issue — and the whole thing too — you would be right.  Sometimes the DOC makes its preliminary margin determination at the later210 day date and the 90 day critical circumstances back-dating can apply to that date too.  [Critical Circumstances is a determination that imports “surged” after the filing of the case, and if DOC finds it so, they back date the suspension of liquidation by 90 days — subject to the final determination of the ITC.  Of course, when a case is filed, importers with steel on order have decisions to make.  Can I get my steel in right away, or should I cancel the order?  Those who can get it in, usually with the 70 day mark in mind, do so.  That really is not a surge truthfully, since the steel was already on order, but, that “surge” gives the DOC the right to claim it and back date the suspension of liquidation.]  

To clear up another misunderstanding, the process goes like this:

  – The domestics file the case
  – The DOC initiates the case — an automatic administrative action after 21 days.
  – The ITC makes the preliminary injury determination at 45 days. If no injury, then, the case ends. That determination is made on a country by country basis, not the whole case one way or another.  
  – The DOC makes its preliminary margin determination at 160 days or 210.  Case does not end if no margins are found. 
  – The DOC makes its final margin determination.  If no margins, case ends.  Happened once in 30+ years for steel. 
  – The ITC makes its final injury determination.  this can happened more than a year after the initial filing.  The ITC does terminate some cases.  

The actual timing is confusing, based on the early or later date of the DOC preliminary and an early or late date for the final DOC determinations…  

Finally, if a Countervailing Duty Case is filed, the whole thing gets even more complicated.  That can be addressed once the cases are filed and if the domestics actually allege subsidies.

[SMU Note: A Countervailing Duty Case has was filed at the same time as the Anti-Dumping allegations.]

The balance of this article is new information gathered by Steel Market Update on Wednesday, June 4, 2015.

Based on a conversation we had we a trade attorney this morning we understand that for the anti-dumping portion of the petition. The collection of duties is on any material which has not cleared customs 90 days prior to the preliminary determination publication in the Federal Register. We believe this date will be about August 20, 2015.

Countervailing Duty preliminary determination is made 85 days after the filing. Again, we have to wait for the determination to be published in the Federal Register which would be on, or about, September 8th. If critical circumstances were found then duties would be due on material which is currently on the water as the effective date would be June 8th. However, we were told that it is almost unheard of for critical circumstances to be implemented on a case like this one.

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