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U.S. stainless steel sheet/strip producers file antidumping petitions against Chinese imports

AK Steel Corp., ATI Flat Rolled Products, North American Stainless, and Outokumpu Stainless USA LLC, all U.S.-based producers of stainless steel sheet and strip, have filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions charging that unfairly traded imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China are causing material injury to the domestic industry.

The antidumping margins alleged by the domestic industry are from 53.69 to 83.24 percent ad valorem. The domestic industry's countervailing duty petition alleges that the Chinese government has provided significant subsidies to Chinese producers.

The companies filed the petitions concurrently with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), seeking relief in response to large and increasing volumes of low-priced imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China over the past three years that have injured U.S. producers. The volume of imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China has increased by 133 percent since 2013. Chinese products accounted for 81.2 percent of the total increase in U.S. stainless steel sheet and strip imports during the past three years.

The petition alleges that Chinese producers have injured the domestic industry by selling their stainless steel sheet and strip at unfairly low prices that significantly undercut domestic market prices. As a result of this unfair competition, the domestic industry has suffered declines in sales, production, employment, prices, and profits. Low prices from China are likely to continue to the detriment of U.S. producers if duties are not imposed to level the playing field. U.S. producers have invested significant capital in recent years to enhance capability, quality, and cost competitiveness and are not earning an adequate rate of return on invested capital, the companies report.

Antidumping duties are intended to offset the amount by which a product is sold at less than fair value, or "dumped," in the U.S. The margin of dumping is calculated by the Commerce Department. Estimated duties in the amount of the dumping are collected from importers at the time of importation. Countervailing duties are intended to offset unfair subsidies that are provided by foreign governments and benefit the production of a particular good. The USITC, an independent agency, will determine whether such imports are a cause of, or threaten, material injury to the domestic industry.

The Commerce Department will determine whether to initiate the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations within 20 days of the petition filing, and the USITC will reach a preliminary determination of material injury or threat of material injury within 45 days. The entire investigative process will take about one year, with final determinations of dumping, subsidization, and injury likely occurring in Q1 2017.