The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has joined the ruckus over questions about the importation of HFC-134a refrigerant from China. On April 14 the federal agency released what it calls a “preliminary Countervailing Duty Determination (CVD).”

The CVD imposes net subsidy rates ranging up to 28.74 percent on R-134a coming from specific companies in China. The charges would take effect upon publication in the Federal Register, which is expected soon.

The idea, according to a number of persons within the U.S. refrigerant industry, is to level the playing field for imported refrigerants which some feel are being unfairly subsidized by the Chinese government.

The document from the DOC said a final determination would not come before May 21 so that it would more closely coincide with an anti-dumping investigation, this from the International Trade Commission (ITC) working in conjunction with DOC. The ITC on Dec. 13, 2013, voted 6-0 to move forward against China regarding possible illegal HFC-134a coming into the United States. That decision is in regards to a petition filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce in which Louisiana-based Mexichem Fluor has asked the government to impose sanctions on the imports.

The ITC is trying to determine whether the U.S. industry is being materially injured or threatened with material injury.

“The massive Chinese overcapacity, Chinese government subsidies and Chinese underselling, combined with the U.S. industry’s need to operate at high utilization levels makes the domestic industry quite vulnerable to a real and imminent threat of injury,” said Mexichem in its petition.

The most recent DOC report said both the anti-dumping and final CVD determinations are now scheduled for Aug. 4, 2014, although the determinations could be postponed to a later date.

Publication date: 4/14/2014

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