This morning, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) rejected the appeals of the Chinese shrimp producer Hilltop International and its U.S. importer affiliate Ocean Duke Corp. that had challenged the application of 112.81% antidumping duties on imports of Hilltop’s shrimp. In today’s decision, the CAFC upheld the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT), which had previously affirmed the determination of the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) to assign a 112.81% antidumping duty rate to the shipments of Hilltop International over a two-year period.
The Federal Appellate court’s decision relates to two administrative reviews that were, respectively, completed at Commerce in 2010 and 2011. However, when evidence came to light in 2012 suggesting that shrimp had been transshipped through Cambodia to evade antidumping duties, Commerce, at the request of the Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee (AHSTAC), sought to confirm the accuracy of certain claims made by the Chinese exporter in another administrative proceeding conducted by the agency. Hilltop repeatedly assured Commerce that it had no affiliations with any company in Cambodia “until confronted with the public registration documents unequivocally revealing the affiliation.”
Once it became clear that Hilltop had made misrepresentations to Commerce regarding its affiliations and that Hilltop’s statements to the agency were unreliable, Commerce re-opened the record of other proceedings, including the fourth and fifth administrative reviews covering shrimp imports that entered the United States between February 1, 2008 and January 31, 2010. Finding the responses of Hilltop in these proceedings to be inaccurate and unreliable, Commerce assigned a 112.81% antidumping duty rate to the exporter’s shrimp shipments.
Hilltop challenged Commerce’s authority to consider the evidence presented by AHSTAC and further challenged the agency’s ability to assign a 112.81% antidumping duty rate. The CAFC found no fault with Commerce’s actions, holding that the Chinese exporter’s “failure to disclose its affiliates and its misrepresentations undermined all of Hilltop’s submissions . . . .” Additionally, the CAFC found that Commerce had reasonably assigned a 112.81% antidumping duty rate after taking steps to confirm that the rate had some basis in commercial reality and that “a non-cooperative respondent could have made sales at the same rate.”
The CAFC’s decision today provides strong support to the agency’s efforts to address fraud and misrepresentation in Commerce proceedings. Further, the CAFC’s decision is the culmination of substantial work undertaken by the Southern Shrimp Alliance and the domestic shrimp industry to address antidumping duty evasion and trade fraud.
Read the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s Opinion in Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee v. United States, Court No. 2014-1514 (October 2015) here: