The U.S. Department of Commerce announced an action that it hasn’t taken in over a quarter of a century.
On Tuesday, the department announced it had self-initiated countervailing duty (CVD) and anti-dumping (AD) investigations with respect to Chinese common alloy aluminum sheet.
“These historic investigations, the first in over a quarter century, were self-initiated pursuant to the authority granted to the Secretary under the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended,” the Department of Commerce said in a prepared statement.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross underscored the administration’s goal of targeting what he called “unfair trade practices.”
“President Trump made it clear from day one that unfair trade practices will not be tolerated under this administration, and today we take one more step in fulfilling that promise,” Ross said in the release. “We are self-initiating the first trade case in over a quarter century, showing once again that we stand in constant vigilance in support of free, fair, and reciprocal trade.”
According to the department, imports of common alloy sheet from China were valued at an estimated $603.6 million in 2016.
Typically, such investigations are prompted by petitions filed by entities within the domestic industry. The secretary of commerce, however, has the authority to self-initiate a CVD or AD investigation if it is determined that such a probe is warranted.
The department last self-initiated a CVD investigation in 1991, when it investigated softwood lumber from Canada. The last self-initated AD case came in 1985, when the department looked at semiconductors from Japan.
According to the release, the merchandise subject to investigation is “common alloy aluminum sheet, which is a flat-rolled aluminum product having a thickness of 6.3 mm or less, but greater than 0.2 mm, in coils or cut-to-length, regardless of width.” The material is typically used in building and construction, transportation, basic electrical applications, and appliances.
“The Department has self-initiated these investigations based on information indicating that the United States price of common alloy sheet from China may be less than the normal value of such or similar merchandise and that imports of common alloy sheet from China may be benefitting from countervailable subsidies,” the department release added. “The Department also has evidence that imports of common alloy sheet from China may be materially injuring, or threatening material injury to, the domestic industry producing common alloy sheet in the United States.”
The domestic aluminum industry applauded the announcement from the Department of Commerce.
“The Aluminum Association and its members enthusiastically support the decision announced today by the Department of Commerce and Secretary Wilbur Ross to self-initiate unfair trade investigations concerning imports of common alloy sheet from China,” said Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, in a prepared statement. “We are extremely grateful for the efforts and leadership of Secretary Ross in vigorously enforcing the U.S. trade laws.
“The Aluminum Association and its members seek to help ensure that common alloy sheet from China entering the United States is fairly traded.”
Final determinations by the Department of Commerce in the cases are scheduled for April 2018 for the CVD investigation and July 2018 for the AD investigation.