Chief Judge Jane A. Restani of the United States Court of International Trade (“CIT”) on August 4, 2010 ordered the United States Department of Commerce (“DOC”) to forego the imposition of countervailing duties on pneumatic off-the-road tires from the People’s Republic of China. Her decision, in GPX International Tire Corporation v. United States, was based on her ruling that US law prohibited DOC from imposing duties higher than the amount needed to offset subsidies on imported products.
The problem for DOC, inherent in the case and as posed by Judge Restani, is that DOC uses surrogate values presumed to be unsubsidized, rather than a company’s actual production costs, to calculate Normal Values. DOC compares these Normal Values in its non-market economy antidumping methodology to the export price, a methodology that should, at least in theory, offset any subsidies on the production of the merchandise (because the comparison has been taken against unsubsidized inputs through surrogate values). If DOC were to impose countervailing duties to offset subsidies that benefit the production of the merchandise, then it would be offsetting the same subsidies twice.
Double counting of subsidies does not occur with DOC’s market economy dumping methodologies (19 C.F.R. §§ 351.405 & 351.406) because, in those cases, Normal Value is calculated based on actual prices in the foreign market and actual costs incurred in that market. Thus, if there were any subsidies imbedded in those prices or costs, they would not be offset by the antidumping methodology and would need to be addressed separately in a countervailing duty investigation.
Judge Restani’s August 4, 2010 decision followed an earlier decision in the GPX case where she sent the matter back to DOC to find a way to avoid the double counting problem. In the earlier case, Judge Restani found that, while DOC had discretion to impose countervailing duties on Chinese merchandise while still considering China to be a non-market economy (the central issue in dispute), DOC had to avoid double counting of subsidies when it applied the countervailing duty law and the antidumping non-market economy methodology to the same products at the same time.
DOC interpreted Judge Restani’s earlier decision as giving it three options: (a) not apply the countervailing duty law; (b) apply the market economy antidumping methodology in that case; or (c) lower the cash deposits imposed in the antidumping case by the amount of cash deposits imposed in the countervailing duty case. DOC decided to lower the antidumping deposits by the amount of the countervailing duty deposits. Judge Restani found that option contrary to US law because there is no provision in the antidumping statute to lower duties by the amount of countervailing duties and because that option is unreasonable as it requires the parties to go through the expense of countervailing duty proceedings that are essentially useless.
Judge Restani ordered DOC to forego imposing countervailing duties on off-the-road tires from China because DOC demonstrated in that case that it did not have the ability to determine the degree to which double counting was occurring in its non-market economy language and offset it directly within that methodology. Thus, the CIT has left open the option in future cases for DOC to try new methodologies to eliminate the double counting within the antidumping nonmarket economy methodology. DOC continues to have the option of imposing countervailing duties to products from China in cases without a companion antidumping case on the same products, or in cases in which it uses its discretion to recognize a market-oriented industry (“MOI”). In that latter instance, considering MOI status, it could continue its general policy of not recognizing China as a market economy while using a market economy methodology for a particular industry. DOC has never recognized an industry in China as “market-oriented,” but it does have the statutory authority to decide to apply market economy methodologies on a case-by-case basis.
DOC, or the petitioners in the GPX case, have the right to appeal Judge Restani’s decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”). Should they do so, that higher court could overturn Judge Restani’s decision, affirm it, or modify it. Were the CAFC to overturn the decision, DOC would be free to apply countervailing duties to the same products on which it used the non-market economy antidumping methodology. In deciding whether to appeal, however, DOC must consider the risk of appealing and losing. Right now Judge Restani’s decision is binding on DOC only in the GPX case: it does not set precedent that DOC would be forced to follow in all future cases. Were DOC to appeal and have the CAFC affirm Judge Restani’s decision, that affirmation would be binding precedent, prohibiting DOC from applying both the CVD law and the non-market economy methodology to the same merchandise.
Judge Restani’s decision was based solely upon US law. However, China has challenged at the World Trade Organization, on the same grounds of double-counting, the application to China of the countervailing duty law while DOC refuses to recognize China as a market economy. Judge Restani’s decision in GPX demonstrates the value, at least to the companies involved, of appealing to the US court, rather than relying solely on WTO challenges. As we noted in earlier articles on this blog (US Court Decision Ought to Change Chinese Thinking and WTO Challenges Not Always a Panacea for Respondents in Trade Litigation), the WTO process is designed to vindicate governmental interests, but does not often provide much comfort or relief for commercial interests. Appeals in the US courts, by contrast, are a right belonging to the companies themselves that have been hurt by the agency’s challenged actions and, when those companies win in U.S. courts,, the remedy can provide immediate retroactive relief.
美国国际贸易法庭首席法官Jane A. Restani于2010年8月4日做出裁决，下令美国商务部停止向中国轮胎征收反补贴税。她在GPX国际轮胎有限公司诉美国一案中指出美国法律禁止美国商务部征收高于实际补贴的惩罚性关税。