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 U.S. Department of Commerce Issues Affirmative Preliminary Determination in the Countervailing Duty Investigation of Imports of Steel Staples from China - U.S. Department of Commerce

Today (11/5/19), the U.S. Department of Commerce announced an affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of imports of certain collated steel staples from China, finding that exporters received countervailable subsidies ranging from 12.38 to 156.99 percent.

As a result of today’s decision, Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of steel staples from China based on these preliminary rates.

In 2018, imports of steel staples from China were valued at an estimated $88.8 million.

The petitioner is Kyocera Senco Industrial Tools, Inc. (Cincinnati, OH).

The strict enforcement of U.S. trade law is a primary focus of the Trump Administration. Since the beginning of the current Administration, Commerce has initiated 184 new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations – a 235 percent increase from the comparable period in the previous administration.

Antidumping and countervailing duty laws provide American businesses and workers with an internationally accepted mechanism to seek relief from the harmful effects of the unfair pricing of imports into the United States. Commerce currently maintains 498 antidumping and countervailing duty orders which provide relief to American companies and industries impacted by unfair trade.

Commerce is currently scheduled to announce its final CVD determination by March 18, 2020.

If Commerce makes an affirmative final determination, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will be scheduled to make its final injury determination by May 1, 2020. If Commerce makes an affirmative final determination in this investigation, and the ITC makes an affirmative final injury determination, Commerce will issue a CVD order. If Commerce makes a negative final determination, or the ITC makes a negative final determination of injury, the investigation will be terminated and no order will be issued.

Click HERE for a fact sheet on today’s decision.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Enforcement and Compliance unit within the International Trade Administration is responsible for vigorously enforcing U.S. trade law and does so through an impartial, transparent process that abides by international rules and is based on factual evidence provided on the record.

Foreign companies that price their products in the U.S. market below the cost of production or below prices in their home markets are subject to antidumping duties. Companies that receive unfair subsidies from their governments, such as grants, loans, equity infusions, tax breaks, or production inputs, are subject to countervailing duties aimed at directly countering those subsidies.


Federal Register Notices:

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today determined that revoking the existing antidumping order on imports of malleable iron pipe fittings from China would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time. 

As a result of the Commission’s affirmative determination, the existing antidumping duty order on imports of these products from China will remain in place. 

Chairman David S. Johanson and Commissioners Rhonda K. Schmidtlein, Jason E. Kearns, Randolph J. Stayin, and Amy A. Karpel voted in the affirmative.  

Today’s action comes under the five-year (sunset) review process required by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.  See the attached page for background on this five-year (sunset) review.

The Commission’s public report Malleable Iron Pipe Fittings from China (Inv. No. 731-TA-1021 (Third Review), USITC Publication 4993, November 2019) will contain the views of the Commission and information developed during the review.

The report will be available by December 12, 2019; when available, it may be accessed on the USITC website at: https://www.usitc.gov/commission_publications_library.

BACKGROUND

The Uruguay Round Agreements Act requires the Department of Commerce to revoke an antidumping or countervailing duty order, or terminate a suspension agreement, after five years unless the Department of Commerce and the USITC determine that revoking the order or terminating the suspension agreement would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping or subsidies (Commerce) and of material injury (USITC) within a reasonably foreseeable time.

The Commission’s institution notice in five-year reviews requests that interested parties file responses with the Commission concerning the likely effects of revoking the order under review as well as other information.  Generally within 95 days from institution, the Commission will determine whether the responses it has received reflect an adequate or inadequate level of interest in a full review.  If responses to the USITC’s notice of institution are adequate, or if other circumstances warrant a full review, the Commission conducts a full review, which includes a public hearing and issuance of questionnaires.

The Commission generally does not hold a hearing or conduct further investigative activities in expedited reviews.  Commissioners base their injury determination in expedited reviews on the facts available, including the Commission’s prior injury and review determinations, responses received to its notice of institution, data collected by staff in connection with the review, and information provided by the Department of Commerce.

The five-year (sunset) review concerning Malleable Iron Pipe Fittings from China was instituted on July 1, 2019.

On October 4, 2019, the Commission voted to conduct an expedited review. Commissioners Rhonda K. Schmidtlein, Jason E. Kearns, Randolph J. Stayin, and Amy A. Karpel concluded that the domestic group response was adequate and the respondent group response was inadequate and voted for an expedited review.  Chairman David S. Johanson concluded that the domestic group response was adequate and the respondent group response was inadequate, but that circumstances warranted a full review.

A record of the Commission’s vote to conduct an expedited review is available from the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.  Requests may be made by telephone by calling 202-205-1802.


Savannah CBP Seizes Record Cocaine Load - U.S. Customs & Border Protection

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Only days before Halloween, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Savannah were treated to a port-record 2,133-pound cocaine seizure October 29.

CBP officers detected an anomaly during a non-intrusive examination of a shipping container aboard a vessel that docked in Savannah from South America. When officers opened the container, they discovered 21 duffel bags that contained a combined 818 bricks of a white powdery substance that field-tested positive for cocaine. 

The cocaine weighed a combined 967 kilograms, or 2,133 pounds, and has a street value of about $31 million.

Authorities made no arrests. Homeland Security Investigations continue to investigate.

The container was being shipped from South America to Europe. The contents were manifested as aluminum/copper waste and scrap. As with all narcotics seizures, an investigation will attempt to learn when and where the cocaine was concealed inside the containers and where the load was destined.

“Drug Trafficking Organizations are relentless in their attempts to smuggle drugs into the U.S.” said Christopher Kennally, Area Port Director Savannah. “Through hard work, dedication and tireless efforts of Customs and Border Protection officers in Savannah, we will continue to hit back at the Drug Trafficking Organizations by intercepting their dangerous drugs at our ports of entry before they can harm our communities.”

Tuesday’s seizure is CBP’s largest cocaine seizure at the Port of Savannah and marks CBP’s fifth narcotics interception in the seaport during the past five months. CBP’s previous record 1,280-pound cocaine seizure occurred in May 2019. That cocaine, which was aboard a container being shipped from South America, had an estimated street value of about $19 million. 

“In response to emerging narcotics smuggling trends and threats in the maritime environment, Customs and Border Protection has enhanced our enforcement strategy on targeting high-risk shipments from source narcotics nations that are either destined to Ports in the United States, or that pass through sovereign United States waters,” said Donald. F. Yando, Director of Field Operations Atlanta. “The scourge of illicit narcotics is a very serious international health and security threat, and CBP will continue to partner with our federal, state, local and international partners by intercepting these dangerous drugs when and where we can.”

CBP officers screen international travelers and cargo and search for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety, security and economic vitality.

On average, CBP seized 4,657 pounds of narcotics every day last year across the United States. Learn about what CBP accomplished during "A Typical Day" in 2018.


AT&T to Pay $60 Million to Resolve FTC Allegations It Misled Consumers with ‘Unlimited Data’ Promises - U.S. Federal Trade Commission

AT&T Mobility, LLC, will pay $60 million to settle litigation with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that the wireless provider misled millions of its smartphone customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while reducing their data speeds.

In a complaint filed in 2014, the FTC alleged that AT&T failed to adequately disclose to its unlimited data plan customers that, if they reach a certain amount of data use in a given billing cycle, AT&T would reduce—or “throttle”—their data speeds to the point that many common mobile phone applications, such as web browsing and video streaming, became difficult or nearly impossible to use.

“AT&T promised unlimited data—without qualification—and failed to deliver on that promise,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “While it seems obvious, it bears repeating that Internet providers must tell people about any restrictions on the speed or amount of data promised.”

The FTC alleged that, despite AT&T’s unequivocal promises of unlimited data, it began throttling data speeds in 2011 for its unlimited data plan customers after they used as little as 2 gigabytes of data in a billing period. AT&T’s alleged practices affected more than 3.5 million customers as of October 2014, according to the FTC complaint.

After AT&T challenged whether the FTC had jurisdiction to bring the case, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2018 ruled that the FTC did have jurisdiction and authority to challenge the company’s marketing of mobile data services, allowing the Commission’s case to proceed.

As part of the settlement, AT&T is prohibited from making any representation about the speed or amount of its mobile data, including that it is “unlimited,” without disclosing any material restrictions on the speed or amount of data. The disclosures need to be prominent, not buried in fine print or hidden behind hyperlinks. For example, if an AT&T website advertises a data plan as unlimited, but AT&T may slow speeds after consumers reach a certain data cap, AT&T must prominently and clearly disclose those restrictions.

The $60 million paid by AT&T as part of the settlement will be deposited into a fund that the company will use to provide partial refunds to both current and former customers who had originally signed up for unlimited plans prior to 2011 but were throttled by AT&T. Affected consumers will not be required to submit a claim for the refunds. Current AT&T customers will automatically receive a credit to their bills while former customers will receive checks for the refund amount they are owed.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 4-0-1. Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter was recused. Commissioner Rohit Chopra issued a statement on the matter. The FTC filed the stipulated order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
 
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