The effective enforcement of unfair trade orders depends on close collaboration between the Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce to identify and investigate patterns of noncompliance, to work cooperatively to advance enforcement cases, as well as on partnerships between the agencies and private sector stakeholders who are critical to identifying unfair trading practices and in helping to inform government officials of relevant information to support these enforcement efforts.
Evasion is an illegal activity that refers to the importation of merchandise into the United States by an act or omission that is material and false, and which results in the correct duties being reduced or not applied to the merchandise. Examples of evasion include:
Circumvention involves an action by a foreign entity or U.S. importer to avoid the assessment of AD/CVD duties by modifying a product in order to claim that it does not fall within the scope of an existing AD/CVD order. Common circumvention schemes involve:
The Enforcement and Compliance business unit within the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) is responsible for enforcing the U.S. AD/CVD laws to protect U.S. businesses. Once an AD/CVD order is in place, the Commerce Department conducts retrospective annual reviews of merchandise imported into the United States to determine the specific margins by which the imports were sold at less than fair value (“dumped”) or benefitted from unfair subsidization. If Commerce finds that the imports are being dumped, or unfairly subsidized, it directs U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assess AD/CVD (as appropriate) in the amount calculated by Commerce in the course of the review proceedings.
Within the Enforcement and Compliance business unit there are offices that are particularly engaged in relevant activities:
In March 2017, the Aluminum Association filed its first-ever unfair trade case against large rolls of aluminum foil (weighing more than 25 pounds) from China. Following extensive investigations, the Commerce Department published final AD/CVD orders (83 FR 17360, 17362) on certain aluminum foil imported into the United States from China on April 19, 2018. The effective combined AD/CVD duty deposit rates calculated by the Commerce Department range from 55 to 187 percent, reflecting the substantial magnitude of the unfair trade practices by Chinese producers and exporters of aluminum foil.
The orders apply to aluminum foil (classifiable under HTS 7607) having:
One year after the orders took effect, the Association released a white paper, Targeted Trade Enforcement in Action: Aluminum Foil AD/CVD One-Year Later, highlighting the positive impact of the AD/CVD orders on the domestic industry.
In September 2020, the Aluminum Association’s Foil Trade Enforcement Working Group filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions charging that unfairly traded imports of aluminum foil from five countries caused material injury to the domestic industry. Due to the success of the Association’s first unfair trade case involving imports of foil from China, Chinese producers shifted exports of aluminum foil to other foreign markets, which led producers in those countries to export their own product to the United States. The industry’s petitions allege that aluminum foil imports from Armenia, Brazil, Oman, Russia and Turkey are being dumped in the United States and that imports from Oman and Turkey benefit from actionable government subsidies. In initiating its investigations, the Commerce Department estimated that foil imports from the subject countries are being dumped at margins of up to 107.61 percent.
The aluminum foil subject to the unfair trade investigations includes all imports from Armenia, Brazil, Oman, Russia and Turkey of aluminum foil that is less than 0.2 mm in thickness (less than 0.0078 inches), in reels weighing more than 25 pounds, and that is not backed. In addition, the unfair trade petitions do not cover etched capacitor foil or aluminum foil that has been cut to shape. The petitions were filed concurrently with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).
On November 12, 2020, the USITC made a unanimous preliminary determination that unfairly-traded imports of certain aluminum foil from Armenia, Brazil, Oman, Russia and Turkey caused injury to U.S. producers. As a result of the USITC’s affirmative preliminary determination, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue to conduct its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on imports of certain aluminum foil from the five countries. The Department of Commerce’s preliminary determinations concerning countervailing duties on Oman and Turkey are due to be completed on February 26, 2021. The current deadline for Commerce to complete its preliminary antidumping determinations is March 8, 2021, although that deadline will likely be extended.
In March 2020, the Aluminum Association’s Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet Trade Enforcement Working Group filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions charging that unfairly traded imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from 18 countries are causing material injury to the domestic industry.
Typical applications for common alloy aluminum sheet include: gutters and downspouts, building facades, street signs and license plates, electrical boxes, kitchen appliances and tractor-trailers for trucks.
Prior to the association’s action, the Commerce Department announced in November 2017 a historic self-initiation of AD/CVD investigations on imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China – the first such action by the department in more than 25 years. The Aluminum Association was strongly supportive of the Department’s self-initiated investigations.
Following a unanimous determination in December 2018 from the U.S. International Trade Commission that U.S. producers had been materially injured by unfairly traded imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China, the Commerce Department issued in February 2019 AD/CVD orders (84 FR 2813, 2157) on imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China – with effective combined AD/CVD duty deposit rates ranging from 96 to 176 percent.
The duty orders enacted in February 2019 on imports from China into the U.S. prompted Chinese producers to shift exports of common alloy sheet to other foreign markets. That shift resulted in producers in those countries exporting their own production to the United States, the only market in the world where market conditions were not distorted by large volumes of unfairly low-priced imports from China.
The domestic industry’s 2020 antidumping petitions allege that common alloy aluminum sheet from Bahrain, Brazil, Croatia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Oman, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey was dumped in the United States at margins ranging from 15.90 percent to 151.00 percent of the value of the imported common alloy aluminum sheet.
Domestic producers also filed countervailing duty petitions alleging that producers in Bahrain, Brazil, India, and Turkey benefit from numerous government subsidy programs. You can find all public petitions for the AD/CVDs here.
Both the industry’s 2020 petitions and the Commerce Department’s 2019 orders apply to aluminum sheet with the following physical characteristics:
Excluded from the scope of the petitions and orders is aluminum can stock that is suitable for use in the manufacture of aluminum beverage cans, lids, or tabs. While the scope of the separate cases is the same, some HTS codes have changed since the initiation of the first case in 2017.
In October 2020, the Department of Commerce announced its preliminary determinations that imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from 18 countries are being dumped in the United States. As a result of this determination, effective in mid-October 2020, U.S. importers of common alloy sheet from the 18 countries at issue in the case will be required to deposit estimated preliminary antidumping duties at the time of importation. There will be an opportunity for parties to submit case and rebuttal briefs to the Commerce Department and to participate in a hearing addressing the preliminary determinations before Commerce issues its final determinations for the on-going investigations. The deadline for the Commerce Department to complete its final determinations in the on-going investigations is March 1, 2021.
If the Commerce Department and U.S. International Trade Commission reach affirmative final determinations that are consistent with their preliminary determinations, imports covered by the investigation will be subject to AD/CVD orders. In the event such unfair trade orders are issued, imports that fall within the scope of the orders will be subject to retroactive annual administrative reviews that can result in revisions in the levels of duties applied for the respective year. In addition, these reviews can result in revisions to the duty deposit rates applicable to future imports – for at least the next five years.