The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has self-initiated an antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of imports of common alloy aluminum sheet (common alloy sheet) from the People’s Republic of China (China). So far in 2017, the DOC has initiated 77 AD and CVD investigations in response to petitions filed by the domestic industry. This self-initiation brings the total to 79 – a 65 percent increase from 48 in the previous year. In 2016, imports of common alloy sheet from China were valued at an estimated $603.6 million. This self-inititated investigation is part of the Trump Administration’s continued effort to play hardball on trade issues with China. Further, this investigation is separate from the much broader probe on Aluminum products under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which could lead to duties being imposed on aluminum imports from a variety of countries to protect manufacturing interests that are critical to national security.

These AD and CVD investigations will proceed like any other trade remedy investigation. If the DOC determines that common alloy sheet from China is being dumped into the U.S. market, and/or receiving unfair government subsidies, and if the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) determines that dumped and/or unfairly subsidized U.S. imports of common alloy sheet from China are causing injury to the U.S. industry, the DOC will impose duties on those imports in the amount of dumping and/or unfair subsidization found to exist. The estimated dumping margin is 56.54 to 59.72 percent.

The ITC will make its preliminary determinations on or before January 16, 2018. If the ITC preliminarily determines that there is injury or threat of injury then the DOC investigations will continue, with a preliminary CVD determination scheduled for February 2018 and a preliminary AD determination scheduled for April 2018 – unless these deadlines are extended.

During the DOC investigation, the ITC will conduct its own investigations into whether the U.S. industry and its workforce are being injured, or threatened with injury, by such imports. If the DOC preliminarily determines that dumping or unfair subsidization is occurring, then it will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to start collecting cash deposits from all U.S. companies importing the subject aluminum sheet from China.

The merchandise subject to investigation is common alloy aluminum sheet, which is a flat-rolled aluminum product having a thickness of 6.3 mm or less, but greater than 0.2 mm, in coils or cut-to-length, regardless of width. Common alloy aluminum sheet is typically used in building and construction, transportation, basic electrical applications, appliances, etc. It may be made to ASTM specification B209-14, but can also be made to other specifications.

Common alloy sheet is currently classifiable under HTSUS subheadings: 7606.11.3060, 7606.11.6000, 7606.12.3090, 7606.12.6000, 7606.91.3090, 7606.91.6080, 7606.92.3090, and 7606.92.6080. Further, merchandise that falls within the scope of these investigations may also be entered into the United States under HTSUS subheadings 7606.11.3030, 7606.12.3030, 7606.91.3060, 7606.91.6040, 7606.92.3060, 7606.92.6040, 7607.11.9090. Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided by the DOC for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the scope of these investigations is dispositive.

Final determinations by the DOC in these cases are scheduled for April 2018 for the CVD investigation, and July 2018 for the AD investigation, but those dates may be extended. If either the DOC finds that products are not being dumped or unfairly subsidized, or the ITC finds in its final determinations there is no harm to the U.S. industry, then the investigations will be terminated and no duties will be applied.