The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has decided that U.S. industry is being materially injured by imports of refrigerant R-134a from China that are being “dumped” in the U.S. The USITC’s affirmative determination paves the way for the U.S Department of Commerce to issue an anti-dumping duty order.

The decision follows a year-long investigation by the Commerce Department, which found that imports of R-134a from China were being dumped in the U.S. market at prices below fair value. In February the U.S. Department of Commerce prescribed anti-dumping duties ranging from 148.79% to 167.02%.

The American HFC Coalition, a group of U.S. refrigerant manufacturers and suppliers, claimed that imports from China, which it said were being sold at prices below fair value, doubled from 2015 to 2016, and continued to increase even after the anti-dumping petition was filed. As a result, the coalition maintained that the U.S. industry had suffered persistently low price levels and poor operating results.

Following the decision, the coalition said: “The imposition of anti-dumping duties is a positive step to restore conditions of fair trade in this market. With these duties in place, [U.S. manufacturers of] R-134a believe they can earn an adequate return on investment and continue to supply the market.”

Last year, the coalition was successful in a similar action against imported HFC blends. As a result, U.S. imports of HFC blends from China are now subject to antidumping duties ranging from 101.82 percent to 216.37 percent. The USTIC decided, however, to exclude the individual components from any duties. That decision is being appealed by the coalition.

In related news, the American HFC Coalition has strongly endorsed President Trump’s executive order directing Customs and Border Protection to examine the use of extra bonding requirements and other measures to address non-payment of antidumping duties. The order also directs the Attorney General to prioritize the prosecution of trade law violators. 

According to a coalition press release, the coalition “has uncovered significant evidence that unscrupulous importers are avoiding antidumping duties and continue to sell HFC refrigerants from China at unfairly low prices. Requiring these importers to fully comply with U.S. law is the only way to remedy the impact of unfairly traded goods on U.S. manufacturers and their workers.

“In the case of HFC blends and R-134a, certain importers have avoided payment of antidumping duties by misstating the country of origin of imported goods, importing HFC blends or R-134a under an incorrect tariff heading, and other fraudulent practices. Stepped up bonding requirements help ensure that importers cannot simply exit the market when [Customs and Border Protection] sends bills for antidumping or countervailing duties.  Such requirements also ensure that importers cannot continue to sell at unfair prices despite the imposition of duties.”

The coalition said under current law relief is too often delayed even though the U.S. government has determined that dumped or subsidized imports are causing material injury to U.S. industry and workers.

Publication date: 5/3/2017

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