Current Location: Home > REGULATION > Latest > Page

U.S. launches anti-dumping investigations against Chinese aluminum products using rarely-used tactic

The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday launched anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duty investigations into Chinese aluminum products using a rarely-used "self-initiation" tactic, despite worries about potential harm to China-U.S. trade ties.

The move to self-initiate investigations into imports of Chinese common alloy aluminum sheet marks the first time in decades that the U.S. government has launched such probes without requests from U.S. companies or industries.

The last self-initiated anti-dumping investigation dated back to 1985 when it ran against semiconductors from Japan and the last self-initiated anti-subsidy duty one dated back to 1991 against softwood lumber from Canada.

When the department set preliminary dumping margins on imports of aluminum foil from China in October, Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said it was "a serious distortion" of the real situation.

China urged the United States to fulfill international obligations and take action to correct the wrong practice, while China will take measures to protect the legal rights of Chinese companies, according to the MOC statement on Oct. 31.

"An administration that self-initiates an investigation is sending an aggressive signal that it is eager to impose import protection," said Chad Bown, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-D.C. based think tank.

A final decision on whether to impose punitive duties on Chinese aluminum products is still months away, as self-initiated investigations would follow the same processes that normal trade cases do.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), another trade authority, will conduct its own investigations and make its preliminary determinations around Jan. 16, 2018. If the agency determines that there is no injury or threat of injury, then the Commerce Department investigations will be terminated.

Cao Hui, a trade lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, an international law firm, told Xinhua that the problem with self-initiated cases is that the Commerce Department takes on the dual roles of the plaintiff and the arbiter, which might lead to a lack of impartiality in the investigations.

Cao believed that the Commerce Department's action on Tuesday is a highly political and symbolic move, but the department is unlikely to self-initiate such cases against China in a large scale.

In 2016, imports of common alloy sheet from China were estimated at 603.6 million U.S. dollars, according to the Commerce Department.