The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) decided to self-initiate an antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigation on imports of common alloy sheet from the People’s Republic of China. This is unusual, as such cases are generally started based on petitions filed by U.S. companies alleging that dumped or unfairly subsidized goods are being exported into the U.S. market.
“We 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,” said Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
The DOC will now conduct investigations of whether imports of common alloy sheet from China are being sold in the United States at unfairly low prices, as well as whether Chinese producers of common alloy sheet are receiving actionable subsidies from the Government of China.
The merchandise subject to investigation is common alloy aluminum sheet, which is a flat-rolled aluminum product having a thickness of 6.3 mm or less, but greater than 0.2 mm, in coils or cut-to-length, regardless of width. Common alloy aluminum sheet is typically used in building and construction, transportation, basic electrical applications, appliances, etc. The U.S. aluminum industry ships about 2 billion lbs of common alloy sheet every year out of around 26 billion lbs of total domestic aluminum demand.
In 2016, imports of common alloy sheet into the U.S. from China were valued at over $600 million. The DOC estimated a dumping margin of 56.54–59.7% for imports of common alloy sheet from China.
The Aluminum Association applauded the DOC’s decision. “The Aluminum Association and its members enthusiastically support the decision announced today by the Department of Commerce and Secretary Wilbur Ross to self-initiate unfair trade investigations concerning imports of common alloy sheet from China,” stated Heidi Brock, president & CEO of the Aluminum Association. “We are extremely grateful for the efforts and leadership of Secretary Ross in vigorously enforcing the U.S. trade laws. The Aluminum Association and its members seek to help ensure that common alloy sheet from China entering the United States is fairly traded.”
Wang Hejun, Commerce Ministry official for China, issued a statement in response to the investigation. “China is strongly dissatisfied about the probe which shows the U.S.’s protectionist inclination,” said Wang (published in Bloomberg). “It will hurt the interests of both sides by deliberately obstructing the normal order of the bilateral aluminum trade.”
The U.S. International Trade Commission will determine whether there is a reasonable indication that domestic producers of common alloy sheet are materially injured or threatened with material injury within 45 days. The entire investigative process will take approximately one year to complete, with final determinations of dumping, subsidization, and injury likely occurring in late 2018 or early 2019.