On Friday, June 24, 2011, the Southern Shrimp Alliance, along with the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear two challenges to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to abandon zeroing in antidumping duty investigations.
Following numerous adverse decisions by the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization saddling members with obligations that do not appear in WTO Agreements, the U.S. Department of Commerce changed its interpretation of the antidumping statute to allow an exporter’s non-dumped sales to offset the exporter’s dumped sales. The change in calculation methodology permits exporters to dump merchandise into the U.S. market so long as the exporters make some sales at higher prices, inviting exporters to manipulate some sales to mask dumping with respect to other. The change in practice results in a significant understatement of the impact of unfair trade in the U.S. market.
In response, U.S. steel manufacturers brought suit to reverse Commerce’s new statutory interpretation. Both the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have upheld Commerce’s authority to change its practice. The steel manufacturers are now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review those decisions (United States Steel Corporation v. United States (No. 10-433) and Nucor Corporation v. United States (No. 10-1439)).
The effectiveness of trade remedies for all domestic industries harmed by unfair trade is substantially limited by Commerce’s acquiescence to WTO rule-making. The agency’s change in practice has had a major impact on the U.S. shrimp industry in particular, resulting in the elimination of antidumping duties on unfairly traded imports from Ecuador and the exemption of two of Thailand’s largest shrimp exporters from the antidumping duty order on shrimp imports from Thailand. Shrimp exporters in Vietnam and China are now also seeking to be excluded from antidumping duties on the same basis as exporters in Ecuador and Thailand.
Representing the domestic shrimp industry, the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s brief emphasizes the findings of the U.S. International Trade Commission describing the massive harm to the industry caused by dumped imports as part of both the original investigation and the recently completed “sunset” review of the trade relief. Should Commerce now remove antidumping duties from Vietnamese and Chinese exporters as well, the domestic shrimp industry is threatened with returning to conditions that culminated in the filing of petitions for trade relief back in 2003.
Read the full amicus curiae brief: 6-24-11 Brief on Zeroing