Chinese Construction Geogrids Slapped with Heavy Tariffs by Commerce

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The Commerce Department has placed preliminary countervailing duties on imports of biaxial integral geogrid products from China. Geogrids are used in road construction for ground stabilization but also in buildings foundations for the same reason.

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They usually consist of a grid made from an extruded polymer, usually polypropylene or high density polyethylene that’s filled with aggregate to stabilize a road or foundation surface. Commerce preliminarily determined that many producers/exporters in China received countervailable subsidies ranging from 16.60% to a huge 128.27%.

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Biaxial geogrid product being used in road construction. Credit: Tensar.

This is the second-time this year that geogrids from China have been tariffed. Georgia-based Tensar International Corp. filed petitions last year over imports of Chinese biaxial integral geogrid products, asserting that the Chinese grids are receiving illegal government subsidies and being unfairly dumped on the U.S. market. The ITC made a preliminary injury finding in January that marked the clearance of the first procedural hurdle in the case. Now that both the ITC and Commerce have made affirmative initial dumping rulings, final determinations should be expected soon.

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Although geogrid products are a relatively obscure construction input, the financial stakes of the case are considerable, as Commerce has said that U.S. imports of Chinese biaxial integral geogrid products tallied $1.5 billion in 2014. It’s an example of the difficulty U.S. manufacturers face, including those of metals, in developing products —Tensar invented the biaxial geogrid that’s now been used in millions of construction projects worldwide — and then defending their products from mass production by Chinese producers.

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“The volume, price effect and impact of the subject imports have been both significant and harmful,” Tensar said in its filing. “Accordingly, the commission should find that subject imports have caused material injury to the domestic industry.”

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