December 4, 2017

U.S. Commerce Department Takes Unusual Step To Address Chinese Dumping Of Aluminum Common Alloy Sheet

The U.S. Commerce Department announced last week that it has initiated an antidumping/countervailing duty (AD/CVD) case against Chinese imports of aluminum common alloy sheet.

The Commerce Department initiated the case on its own, a step that, according to The Washington Post, the department has not taken in a quarter century. (Almost all other AD/CVD investigations are initiated based on a complaint filed by a private party or industry trade group.) Chad Brown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics explained, “The act of starting the investigation itself — and not waiting for the U.S. aluminum industry to request it — is another signal that the Trump administration is eager not only to impose trade protection, but also to confront China.”

Indeed, in a conference call explaining the department’s decision, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said, “President Trump made it clear from day one that unfair trade practices will not be tolerated under this administration. Today’s action shows that we intend to make good on that promise to the American people.”

Imports from China of aluminum common alloy sheet totaled just over $600 million last year.

Chinese officials criticized the Commerce Department. Commerce Ministry official Wang Hejun said, “China is strongly dissatisfied about the probe which shows the U.S.’s protectionist inclination. 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 within 45 days whether there is a reasonable indication that domestic producers of common alloy sheet are materially injured or threatened with material injury, but the final determination in the case is not expected to come until late 2018.