The federal government’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 concluded on September 30, 2020. Over the course of FY 2020, 114 antidumping and countervailing duty petitions were filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. These petitions were filed on behalf of 26 separate industries and cover products ranging from cigarettes to phosphate fertilizers to walk-behind lawn mowers. FY 2020 also saw additional petitions for AD/CVD duties on wind towers, tires, mattresses, and aluminum foil – industries that have previously obtained relief under the U.S. trade remedy laws.
As shown in the chart below, the 114 AD/CVD petitions filed in FY 2020 is significantly higher than in recent years. While this trend can be interpreted as reflecting a growing recognition of the importance of securing fair trade and a level playing field for American workers, it can also be seen as demonstrating the growing pressures put on domestic industries from unfairly traded imports from an increasing number of countries.
Imports from China have played less of a role in AD/CVD petitions than over the last few years. As shown in the table below, although over half of the AD/CVD petitions filed in FY 2017 involved products imported from China, in FY 2020 less than one out of every five petitions involved products from China.
The major focus for AD/CVD petitions filed in the last fiscal year were countries outside of China. In fact, the 114 AD/CVD petitions filed in FY 2020 sought AD/CVD investigations into merchandise from forty (40) distinct countries. As shown in the table below, the number of countries involved in AD/CVD petitions filed last year was significantly greater than in prior fiscal years, more than doubling from the previous fiscal year.
Moreover, the petitions filed in FY 2020 were brought against fourteen (14) countries that are not currently subject to any AD/CVD orders. These countries include Armenia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Tunisia. Specifically, the following petitions seek to have AD/CVD duties applied to countries that are not currently subject to any AD/CVD orders:
- Silicon Metal Petitions – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, and Kazakhstan
- Mattresses Petitions – Cambodia and Serbia
- Aluminum Foil Petitions – Armenia
- Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand Petitions – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia
- Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet Petitions – Bahrain, Croatia, Egypt, Serbia, and Slovenia
- Seamless Pipe Petitions – Czech Republic
- Phosphate Fertilizer Petitions – Morocco
The growth in the number of countries for which AD/CVD orders are sought is consistent with the growing game of “whack a mole” that domestic industries are forced to play to ensure effective trade relief against unfairly traded imports.
Indeed, as noted above, a number of the AD/CVD petitions filed in FY 2020, seek to cover merchandise that is already subject to AD/CVD orders if produced or exported from different countries. For example, in late 2019, an AD order was published on mattresses from China. However, before the ink on that order was even dry, foreign producers, such as Zinus (which received an estimated dumping margin of 192.04% in the China AD investigation), appear to have instituted plans to move manufacturing to other markets such as Indonesia. After moving to Indonesia, Zinus continued to rely on inputs from its Chinese affiliates. In addition, even after commencing production in places such as Indonesia and Cambodia, foreign mattress producers appear to have continued to operate in much the same way they did in China, assisted in large part by the government of China’s massive investments in these countries as part of its “Belt and Road Initiative.”
Besides U.S. mattress producers, several other U.S. industries that have previously obtained relief under the U.S. trade remedy laws have been forced to file additional AD/CVD petitions in FY 2020 as foreign producers shift production operations while continuing to engage in unfair trade practices that harm U.S. industries. In response to these challenges, domestic industries are forced to go through the time- (and resource-) consuming exercise of filing multiple rounds of AD/CVD petitions. These proceedings, often involving the same foreign actors, place enormous pressure on the administrative capacity of Commerce and the ITC.
In summary, data for FY 2020 shows that U.S. manufacturers and producers continue to combat dumped and subsidized products through petitions for AD/CVD orders. The breadth of U.S. domestic industries that have filed petitions have increased as more industries are forced to confront higher volumes of unfairly traded products from an increasing number of foreign markets.