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U.S. launches circumvention inquiry on Vietnamese stainless steel sheets, strips
By Gia Phong
Monday,  May 18, 2020,15:36 (GMT+7)

U.S. launches circumvention inquiry on Vietnamese stainless steel sheets, strips

By Gia Phong

A worker at a steel production line owned by Hoa Phat Hai Duong Steel JSC. The United States is determining whether stainless steel sheets and strips from Vietnam are within the scope of the antidumping and countervailing duties on stainless steel sheets and strips from China – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC – The United States is investigating whether imports of stainless steel sheets and strips produced in Vietnam using stainless steel flat-rolled input materials manufactured in China are circumventing the antidumping and countervailing duties on these products from China.

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has initiated a scope inquiry to determine whether stainless steel sheets and strips produced in China and undergoing further processing in Vietnam before being shipped to the United States is subject to the existing duties, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The ministry said the probe is based on available information, which alleges the stainless steel sheet and strip products from Vietnam may be within the scope of the U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty orders on China’s equivalents ranging from 139% to 267% since 2016.

In particular, Vietnamese manufacturers may have imported stainless steel flat-rolled inputs from China, which then underwent minor processing in Vietnam before being exported as finished products to the United States.

Also, the volume of Vietnam’s stainless steel sheet and strip exports to the United States may have surged before and after the world’s largest economy imposed tariffs on similar products from China.

The DOC alleged shipments of stainless steel sheets and strips from Vietnam to the United States increased in value by US$122 million, or 180.4%, based on import data from the 40-month periods before and after the initiation of investigations into exports of Chinese stainless steel sheets and strips in March 2016.

However, the Vietnamese ministry cited data indicating that the shipments of Vietnamese stainless steel sheets and strips to the United States had seen gradual declines from 32,000 tons in 2017 to 25,000 and 23,000 tons in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

The ministry added that Vietnam is imposing antidumping duties on China’s stainless flat steel imports, ranging from 17.94% to 31.85%. The move is meant to minimize losses among Vietnamese manufacturers, especially those on the verge of bankruptcy.

The ministry noted that the DOC will issue questionnaires to gather information from Vietnamese steel producers and exporters.

Therefore, the ministry has urged these companies to provide all necessary details, including those related to their sources of input materials and their management processes, as requested by U.S. authorities, in a timely manner.

Otherwise, the DOC may make a decision based on available information, which typically puts these companies at a disadvantage during investigations, according to the ministry.

The ministry pledged to collaborate closely with the DOC, the Vietnam Steel Association and the relevant exporters and to formulate plans to support the affected companies in an attempt to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.

New duty petition on Vietnam’s vehicle tires

The Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade also said in another statement last week that the DOC had received a petition for the imposition of antidumping duties on passenger vehicle and light truck tires (PVLT tires) from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

In addition, the petition alleged that imports of PVLT tires from Vietnam are unfairly subsidized and requested the imposition of countervailing duties.

The petition accused Vietnam of having dumping margins as high as 33% and detailed numerous government subsidies that benefit Vietnamese tire producers, including loans, tax breaks and grants.

According to the petition, PVLT tires from the four countries are being sold at less than fair value in the United States and PVLT tires from Vietnam benefit from countervailable subsidies, causing material injury and threatening further material injury to the U.S. industry if trade remedy duties are not imposed.

Citing data from the U.S. International Trade Commission, the ministry stated that the shipments of Vietnamese PVLT tires were valued at US$12.1 million last year, making up some 6.7% of the United States’ total PVLT tire import revenue.

The ministry pledged to work with the DOC to clarify the accusations in the petition and provide the relevant information to U.S. authorities so that the DOC can make an accurate assessment before deciding whether to initiate an investigation.

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