Craig Lewis addresses recent developments in US trade law
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Craig Lewis, Partner in law firm Hogan Lovells US, LLP, told attendees at SteelOrbis' Steel Conference in Houston, Texas on May 8, that steel represents a disproportionate amount of overall antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders in the US with 121. There are orders in place on most product lines: plate, hot rolled coil, galvanized and tin mill products, wire rod, rebar, PC strand, as well as a plethora of pipe and tube products. However, the number of new AD/CVD initiations has been relatively low since 2008, when the latest recession hit. "Trade cases are counter-cyclical," he explained. When the economy, and in turn domestic producers, is suffering, the domestics look to trade to help ease the situation.
The severity of the latest recession and the extensive legal costs associated with a dumping suit are also contributing factors to the slowdown in trade cases. Additionally, with globalization and the growing number of joint ventures in the US, many domestic production facilities have a foreign parent.
In some recent decisions, a trend of negative determinations has appeared, while the ITC made a unanimous affirmative determination in the case of steel nails from the UAE, it made negative determinations on galvanized steel wire from China and Mexico, steel wheels from China, and bottom-mount refrigerator freezers from Mexico and Korea. However, Lewis noted that one of the ITC commissioners, who generally tended to favor the domestic industry, has recently been replaced, which may also be a causative factor. The case of the steel wheels and steel wire were especially surprising, considering that it is virtually unheard of for the ITC to make a negative determination in a case involving China. China is "a special case," according to Lewis; as a non-market economy (NME), investigations on Chinese cases will remain different from those on other countries until at least 2016.
During the question-and-answer portion of the session, Lewis indicated that the US is unlikely to discontinue its use of retrospective AD/CVD duties due to strong domestic opposition. However, the sheer discussion of ending the practice is a testament to at least the possibility.