Editor’s Note: Baker & Hostetler LLP recently submitted the following comments in response to the Department of Commerce’s request for comments on Retrospective Versus Prospective Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Systems.  中文请点击这里

Introduction: The American Way Compared To The Method Used By Almost Everyone Else            

        Remedies for disputes heard by panels of the World Trade Organization are prospective.’ There are no penalties for past misdeeds. Procedural delay is rewarded. A country is not expected to change its ways before the absolute completion of proceedings and definitive adverse decisions. While it continues conduct ultimately found inconsistent with its international obligations, a country faces no penalty. Only when the decision requires change and a country refuses is the country subject to penalty, and then only indirectly.

        Article 9 of the Agreement on Implementation of Article VI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (the "Antidumping Agreement") provides for the imposition and collection of anti-dumping duties, and authorizes either prospective or retrospective assessment of duties. The prospective system governs international trade remedy systems in almost every country. It also governs the conduct of original antidumping and countervailing duty investigations in the United States. Except for the very limited exception of critical circumstances, which is almost never used, a company will not be liable for antidumping or countervailing duties on imports before there is at least a preliminary determination of dumping or countervailable subsidies. The United States may be unique in its application of a retrospective review system governing the assessment of duties after an order is imposed, and is certainly the only major WTO member that uses a retrospective system.

        The Request for Comment asks for a comparison of prospective and retrospective systems with respect to six criteria. The first criterion refers to "remedying injurious dumping or subsidized exports to the United States." This language carries at least two assumptions, that the result of an investigation will be to find dumping or subsidization, and that the dumping or subsidization will be found to be injurious. The language, thus, fails to recognize a key problem with the American system: the mere filing of a petition disrupts trade because it distorts markets.

          Exporters to the United States, as a matter of prudence and precaution, invariably raise prices when an investigation is initiated. Importers and downstream customers start scrambling for alternative suppliers because of uncertainty about how imports from the country subject to the petition may be treated later on. Consequently, petitioners in the American system are rewarded for the filing of a petition, no matter whether the petition is frivolous or bound, ultimately, to fail. The main cause of that problem is the very low standard in the United States for accepting petitions, but retrospective duty assessment exacerbates the problem because importers know that, were an order to be imposed, their liability would be unlimited and would not be determined until well after the subject merchandise had been imported.

        Where dumping or subsidization and injury are found, remedies are important. A system that imposes an implicit remedy where there may be no need, however, that imposes an in terrorem effect on trading partners, is defective, and may explain why other countries have thought better of this system. The United States ought to be asking itself, when comparing prospective and retrospective systems, why almost everyone else does things differently.

         The American retrospective system begins collecting bonds for prospective duties as soon as there is a preliminary determination estimating antidumping or countervailing duty margins. The negative effects of this initial bonding period are muted because the bonding rate acts as a cap on the duties that can be collected for imports entering between the Commerce Department’s preliminary determination and the International Trade Commission’s final determination. The actual duties assessed can go down for imports entering during this period, but they cannot go up.

        The bonding cap is lifted and replaced by a cash deposit requirement when the antidumping or countervailing duty order goes into effect. Thereafter, the actual duties assessed can be increased or decreased drastically, based on the results of administrative reviews that may not be completed until more than two years after the affected merchandise was imported. Should the results of those administrative reviews be appealed, the actual determination of duties owed could be delayed many years further.

         Importers, who are held accountable for the duties, operate in an environment of substantial uncertainty for many years because of this system of assessment. It is impossible to know in advance of the Commerce Department’s analysis what a final antidumping or countervailing duty tariff rate may be because there are so many variables that can affect the calculations, including methodological changes the Commerce Department may introduce between reviews, following importation. So, too, the U.S. Treasury cannot know how much money it will actually collect in duties during this extended period.

        The prospective system in most other countries removes most of the uncertainty characteristic of a retrospective system. As in the United States, the investigation in a prospective system produces duty rates, updated regularly through administrative reviews.  However, reviews do not change rates retrospectively. The duties collected are the duties owed, without the possibilities of increased duties or money returned according to the results of an administrative review. The rates set in the investigation apply to all imports going forward until the first review; the rates set in administrative reviews also apply going forward only.

        Not every prospective system is the same, but the principles are consistent and have similar market effects. In Canada, for example, the original investigation determines "normal values," which are minimum acceptable prices. As long as goods are imported above those prices, no duties are collected. Goods imported below normal values, however, are taxed the difference in price. The system is designed not for the purpose of revenue collection, but for the purpose of fair trade: the normal values define prices above which goods are not determined to be dumped or subsidized, leaving no reason to be collecting duties on them. The purpose of the law is to assure fair competition for domestic products, not to disrupt the market or create uncertainty for importers.

         The European Union also has adopted a prospective system. EU officials establish the normal value for a product in an investigation and then compare the normal value to the export price. The percentage difference between these two is fixed as the duty rate, which applies to all future imports of the product unless superseded on a prospective basis in a subsequent review.

        Most systems are neither purely prospective or retrospective. In the United States, for example, parties must request administrative reviews. When none is requested, the previously found duty rates continue to apply between administrative review periods, and the cash deposit rate from the investigation becomes the duty rate when no first administrative review is conducted.’ A European Union importer may be able to recover previously collected duties, provided he can prove that dumping or subsidization has ended or that goods are being imported at rates below those that had applied when the goods had been imported.

Relative Merits Of Prospective And Retrospective Systems

        The American retrospective system is more accurate in assessing duties than the prospective system used in the European Union because it is based on the actual prices of imported sales compared to domestic prices (or contemporaneous costs) of like products sold at or near the same time. The American system is not necessarily more accurate, however, than the prospective normal value system used in Canada and several other countries. Although the Canadian system uses normal values calculated during a prior period, both systems use current import data. Because the Canadian prospective normal value system performs the necessary calculations at the time of importation, the risk of inaccuracy caused by lost data is reduced. Moreover, collection of total, accurate duties in a retrospective system requires assessment against importers well after the goods have been imported. It is not unusual for importers to be out of business by the time the final rates are supposed to be collected, leaving only deposits in the Treasury.

        Early estimated rates usually are much higher than rates to be finally assessed. These estimated rates distort the market, often dramatically, but when an importer can survive the initial impact, he can also recover monies paid that exceeded what ultimately was due.

         The American system is administratively very expensive because customs entries must be kept open, sometimes for years (subject to legal appeals and challenge), before final duties can be assessed. In the interval, the possibility of actual collection diminishes, while importers do not know whether they will be getting money back, or will owe more.

        In the prospective system where normal values are fixed in advance, importers can know what their prices have to be to avoid duties. In other prospective systems where duty rates, rather than normal values, are fixed in advance, importers can know what prices they need to charge their customers in order to recover the costs of the duties and still make a profit. There is more certainty and stability in the market than in a retrospective system. Duties are collected at the time of importation. Consequently, there is much more certainty that they, in fact, will be collected, and as the amount to be collected is known at the time of importation, the administrative system is much less cumbersome and expensive.

The Goals Of The Comparison

        Congress asked the Department of Commerce to compare prospective and retrospective antidumping and countervailing duty systems according to six goals. The current American retrospective system appears superior to a European style prospective system, but not a Canadian style prospective system, with respect to the first goal. All types of prospective systems appear preferable for the remaining five.

• The retrospective system may appear in theory to be superior for remedying injurious exports to the United States because it calculates duty rates based on a comparison of the actual import prices to normal values or subsidies calculated for a contemporaneous period. However, because the prospective system allows the importer to account fully for the antidumping or countervailing duties in its own pricing decisions (i.e., where the imports compete with the domestic product), it is arguable whether, even under this criterion, a retrospective system is superior.
• Prospective systems are better at collecting duties because they collect upon importation and do not have to wait through administrative and legal reviews and proceedings that can take years.
• Prospective systems are more likely to reduce incentives and opportunities for the evasion of duties because they are clearer in their expectations: normal values or fixed duty rates advise importers in advance of the prices they should apply to goods, information known to authorities with certainty at the time of importation.
• The retrospective system has no reliable way to "target high-risk importers," as it is focused on the prices of goods after they are imported. The prospective system, focused on the price of the goods when they arrive at port, makes the relative "risk" of the importer less relevant.
• The American retrospective system, by creating much more uncertainty in the marketplace, creates competitive advantages for U.S. petitioners (through the advantages of market disruption), but the costs and consequences are visited upon importers, their employees, downstream businesses and their employees, and ultimately U.S. consumers.
• The retrospective system is by far more administratively cumbersome and expensive than the prospective system adopted by almost every other country and reflected in the principles governing the remedy system of the WTO.

         The United States has maintained an expensive and inefficient system unlike any other country’s. The systematic analysis Congress has invited has been overdue, and ought to lead to change.
 

介绍:美国方式与他国方式比较

        世贸组织裁定的惩罚针对未来,具有前瞻式。在裁决发布前的错误行为不受惩罚。程序性拖延因此受奖励。因此,某国不会在不利裁决发布前采取行动。即使该国继续违反国际承诺,该国也不会面临惩罚。只有当裁决要求该国改变行为,且该国拒绝执行时,该国才会面临间接惩罚。

        世贸组织《反倾销条约》第九款规定如何确定、征收反倾销税,并允许前瞻式和追溯式征收反倾销税。大多数国家采取前瞻式征税。美国的反倾销、反补贴调查也采取这一方式。大多数情况下,至少在初裁结果发布前某一公司不会被征收反倾销、反补贴税,特例几乎从未发生。在反倾销、反补贴令发布后,美国开始追溯式征收惩罚性关税,这非常特殊——美国是唯一采取这一方法的主要世贸组织成员。

        美国商务部征求公众意见,根据六个条件比较这两种不同的惩罚性关税征收方式。第一个条件是“惩罚出口至美国、造成产业损害的倾销、补贴产品”。这一条款包括两大假设:首先,调查结果将为裁定倾销、补贴存在;其次,补贴或倾销造成产业损害。因此,这一条款忽视了美国方式的主要问题:递交申请将影响市场正常运行。

        每一调查都将促使对美出口的出口商谨慎地提高售价。进口商以及下游客户则将着急地寻找其他供货途径,因为调查将带来种种不确定性。因此,美国体系下的调查申请人仅仅通过递交申请就可享受既得利益,即使调查注定失败。导致这一弊病的原因是美国政府接受调查申请的标准极低,但是追溯式征税强化了这一弊病:进口商知道当一旦反倾销、反补贴令下达,他们面临无穷负担,而且商品进口后很久都将前途叵测。

        一旦裁定倾销或补贴以及损害存在,贸易补偿非常重要。但是导致隐蔽但却可能不必要的补偿的体系是恐吓性贸易体系,也可以解释为什么其他国家曾经看好这一贸易体系。美国应当扪心自问,为什么其他国家都使用前瞻式征税方式。

        在美国追溯式征税方式下,一旦初裁宣布反倾销、反补贴税率,美国就向进口品征收保证金。在这一阶段,初始保证金的负面影响不大,因为保证金税率的作用是为在美国商务部宣布初裁结果至美国国际贸易委员会宣布终裁结果之间征收的惩罚性关税设定上限。实际征收的税率可以下调,但不能向上波动。

        当反倾销或反补贴令生效后,保证金就被现金储蓄所取代。此后,实际征收的惩罚性关税可远远高于或低于已征收的现金,这完全取决于一年一度的复审结果,但是这一结果距离商品进口日期可达两年之久。如果上诉复审结果,惩罚性关税的确定日期将拖延更久。

        进口商支付惩罚性关税,因此他们将在极度不确定中运营多年。因为多种因素将影响美国商务部最后确定的反倾销、反补贴税率,包括计算方法等,因此不可能预测最后税率。同时,美国财政部在很长一段时间内也不知道最后征收的惩罚性关税的具体数目。

        其他国家采用的前瞻式税收方式排除了不确定性。与美国方式相同,前瞻式征税方式在调查中确定税率,在复审中不断更新。但是复审不改变先前确定的税率。征收的税率与拖欠税率相等,复审不影响最终征收的税率。调查确定的税率只影响第一次复审结果宣布前进口的商品;历次复审也只影响未来进口的商品。

        各国前瞻式征税方式并不完全相同,但是原则一致,市场效果相同。以加拿大为例,调查确定“正常价值”,也就是最低可接受的价值。只要商品以高于此价值的价格进口,就不会面临惩罚性关税。以低于正常价值进口的商品将面临惩罚性关税,进口价格和正常价值间的差价即为惩罚性关税。这一体系不是为了增加财政收入而是为了促进公平贸易:如果商品以高于正常价值的价格进口,就无须向这一商品征收反补贴或反倾销税。这一法律的目的是为了确保国内产品的公平竞争环境,而不是为了阻碍市场正常发展或是造成不确定性。

        欧盟也使用前瞻式征收方式。欧盟官员在调查中确定正常价值,然后与出口价格相比。两者间的差价将折算成百分比,即惩罚性关税税率,这一方法适用于此后进口的所有商品,直至下一轮复审。

        很多体系既不完全属于前瞻式也不完全属于追溯式。在美国,涉案方必须申请复审。如果没有接到申请,则先前确定的税率适用于复审阶段。即,如果没有第一次复审,调查中确定的现金储蓄率就成为惩罚性关税税率。欧盟进口商可能可以取回部分已经被征收的惩罚性关税,只要他能证明倾销或补贴已经终止,或是进口价格与正常价格间的差价已经缩小。

追溯式和前瞻式税收方式比较

        美国的追溯式惩罚性关税征收方式比欧盟的前瞻式征收方式更精确,因为美国方式建立在同一时期实际进口价格和本土价格(当前成本)基础之上。但是美国方式不一定比加拿大方式或是其他国家的方式更为精确。虽然加拿大方式使用前一阶段的正常价值,两国都使用当前进口数据。因为加拿大的正常价值体系在进口时进行计算,数据遗失造成计算错误的可能性减小。此外,在回顾式征收方式下准确征收所有惩罚性关税需要在商品进口很久以后再衡量进口品。进口商在税率确定时已经破产的情况并不罕见,使得美国财政部只得到现金储蓄。

        估算得到的税率往往远远超过实际征收的税率。这些估算税率扭曲市场,常常极度扭曲市场;但只要进口商能够承受初始阶段的冲击,他往往能在最后取回多缴的税金。

        美国方式在实际运作中非常昂贵,因为在最后税率确定之前,商品的海关进出口纪录必须保留,有时甚至应保持多年(根据法律诉讼情况不同时间不等)。在这一阶段,实际征收税率的可能性不大,进口商不知道他们是否可以取回现金或是需要交纳更多税金。

        在前瞻式征收方式中,正常价值早已得以确定,进口商知道哪一价格是不被征收惩罚性关税的底线。在首先确定惩罚性关税税率、而非正常价值的前瞻式征收方式中,进口商可以确定新的价格以抵消损失。因此,前瞻式征收方式更具确定性和稳定性。同时,进口时征收税率确保惩罚性关税一定会被征收,而且实施这一体系的行政成本较低。

比较的目标

        国会让商务部根据六个目标比较这两大惩罚性关税征收方式。根据第一个目标可以得出现行美国追溯式税收方式优于欧盟的前瞻式税收方式,但并不优于加拿大的前瞻式税收方式的结论。根据其他五个目标,前瞻式税收方式更优越。

• 从理论角度着眼,追溯式征税方式更有利于补偿出口至美国的商品带来的损害,因为惩罚性关税的计算方法建立在比较同一时期实际进口价格和正常价值基础之上。但是,因为前瞻式税收方式允许进口商将反补贴、反倾销税率计入价格决策中(当进口商品与国内产品产生竞争时),追溯式征收方式是否更优越仍值得讨论。

• 前瞻式更有利于征收惩罚性关税因为这一方式在进口时征收惩罚性关税,而不必等待复审或是其他法律程序结果,这些结果的等待时间长达几年之久。

• 前瞻式更有利于降低躲避惩罚性关税的动力和可能性,因为进口商的期待值非常清楚:进口商在进口时已经了解正常价值和固定税率,知道应当以何种售价转售商品;政府有关部门也清楚掌握这些信息。

• 追溯式无法单独针对“高危险进口商”,也无法针对进口后商品的价格。前瞻式征收方式着眼于商品抵达进口港时的价格,降低了“进口商危险”。

• 美国的追溯式征收方式导致市场不稳定,为美国申诉方创造了条件(通过扰乱市场),但是美国进口商、其员工、下游生产商、最终美国消费者承担负面影响。

• 追溯式征收方式带来的行政负担远远超过体现世贸组织原则的、其他国家的前瞻式征收方式。

        一直以来,美国使用这一昂贵、低效的系统。国会早应进行系统性研究,希望这一研究带来变革。