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Trade Enforcement Actions See Increase in 2018, Annual ITC Report Finds

Thursday, October 17, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S. increased its trade enforcement activities and saw higher trade values in 2018, according to the International Trade Commission’s annual review of trade-related activities. This report includes information on (a) antidumping, countervailing, safeguard, intellectual property rights infringement, national security, and section 301 cases active in 2018; (b) the operation of trade preference programs; (c) significant activities in the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum; (d) negotiations on existing and planned free trade agreements, (e) bilateral trade issues with major trading partners such as the European Union, Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and India; and (g) U.S. trade in goods and services.

Safeguards. The ITC conducted no new safeguard investigations but the U.S. imposed safeguards on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and large residential washers.

Section 301. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative imposed additional 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports from China in two separate actions in July and August and then imposed an additional 10 percent tariff (which was increased to 25 percent in 2019) on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods in September. Plans to raise these tariffs to 30 percent were recently put on hold. (Click here for ST&R’s tariff actions resource page on these and other tariffs actions.)

AD/CV. The ITC instituted 31 new antidumping injury investigations (down from 58 in 2017) and made 34 preliminary determinations (down from 54) and 52 final determinations (up from 36). AD duty orders were issued in 41 of the final investigations on 16 products from 22 countries.

The ITC instituted 22 new countervailing injury investigations (down from 26) and made 25 preliminary determinations (up from 17) and 21 final determinations (up from 16). CV duty orders were issued in 18 of the final investigations on 13 products from 8 countries.

The ITC instituted 34 sunset reviews of existing AD and CV duty orders and suspension agreements (up from 32) and completed 55 reviews (up from 46), resulting in the continuation of 50 AD and CV duty orders for up to five additional years, the termination of two orders, and the revocation of three orders.

IPR Infringement. There were 130 active section 337 investigations and ancillary proceedings (unchanged from 2016), 64 of which were instituted in 2018 (down from 74 the previous year). The ITC completed a total of 61 investigations and ancillary proceedings (down from 64) and issued three general exclusion orders (down from five), 12 limited exclusion orders (unchanged), and 34 cease and desist orders (up from 30). Technology products accounted for about 38 percent of the active proceedings (unchanged), followed by pharmaceuticals and medical devices at 13 percent (unchanged), automotive, transportation, and manufacturing products at 12 percent (up from 10 percent), and small consumer products (9 percent).

National Security. The U.S. imposed additional tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, on imports of steel products and aluminum products following a determination under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 that such imports were threatening national security. Section 232 investigations were also initiated on automobiles and auto parts and uranium.

GSP. U.S. imports under the Generalized System of Preferences increased 10.7 percent to $23.6 billion. These imports accounted for 9.9 percent of total U.S. imports from GSP beneficiary countries and 0.9 percent of total U.S. imports (both figures were unchanged from 2017). The top five beneficiary countries (India, Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia, and Turkey) accounted for 73.2 percent of GSP imports. Five country practice reviews were initiated on India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Turkey, and in 2019 GSP was revoked for India and Turkey. Argentina’s GSP eligibility was reinstated in January 2018 after a nearly six-year suspension but Ukraine’s was partially removed in April due to failure to adequately protect intellectual property rights.

AGOA. In 2018, 40 sub-Saharan African countries were eligible for AGOA benefits, 28 of which were also eligible for AGOA textile and apparel benefits for all or part of the year. In July apparel benefits were reinstated for Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) but terminated for Rwanda. An out-of-cycle eligibility review determined in March that Tanzania and Uganda were in compliance with AGOA’s eligibility requirements.

Imports entering exclusively under AGOA (excluding GSP) were valued at $10.8 billion in 2018, an 11.9 percent decrease from 2017 that can be attributed to a decline in the value and quantity of imports of crude petroleum and passenger motor vehicles. An additional $1.2 billion from AGOA beneficiary countries entered duty-free under GSP. In total, AGOA and GSP accounted for 48.8 percent (down from 55.4) of total imports from AGOA beneficiary countries.

Nepal. In 2018, the second full year the Nepal Trade Preference Act was in effect, U.S. imports from Nepal under this program were $3.1 million (up from $2.3 million in 2017), accounting for 3.1 percent of total U.S. imports from Nepal.

Caribbean. At the end of 2018, 17 countries and dependent territories were eligible for preferences under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, eight of which were designated as eligible for Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act preferences. The value of U.S. imports under CBERA (including CBTPA) increased by 9.1 percent to $1.7 billion, mainly reflecting an increase in U.S. imports of apparel from Haiti and methanol from Trinidad and Tobago. U.S. imports under CBERA of crude petroleum continued to decline as U.S. production increased. Haiti was the leading supplier of U.S. imports under CBERA in 2018, followed by Trinidad and Tobago.

The value of U.S. imports of apparel from Haiti entering under the Haitian Hemisphere Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2006 and 2008 (HOPE acts) increased 11.9 percent to $645.5 million, and 97.0 percent of U.S. imports of apparel from Haiti entered duty-free under CBERA (which includes the HOPE acts).

Trade with FTA Partners. Total two-way (exports and imports) goods trade between the U.S. and its 20 FTA partners was $1.6 trillion in 2018, which accounted for 39.1 percent of total U.S. goods trade with the world.

The value of imports that entered under FTAs and subject to FTA duty reductions and eliminations totaled $408.0 billion in 2018, up 5.8 percent. Imports subject to FTA duty reductions and eliminations accounted for 47.3 percent of total imports from FTA partners and 16.1 percent of total U.S. imports from the world. The majority of U.S. imports from FTA partners that do not enter under an FTA generally enter free of duty under normal trade relations rates.

Imports under the FTA with Singapore, which grew 147.1 percent, represented the largest percentage increase in 2018, while imports from Mexico, which increased by $17.4 billion, accounted for the greatest absolute change in value. Imports under FTAs from Panama and Oman also increased significantly, rising by 41.5 percent ($24 million) and 28.8 percent ($202 million), respectively.

In 2018 the Trump administration announced plans to negotiate trade agreements with the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Japan and signed the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement, which is intended to modernize NAFTA.

NAFTA. U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico accounted for $1.2 trillion or 74.8 percent of total U.S. trade with FTA partners. U.S. exports to the NAFTA countries rose 7.3 percent to $563.7 billion while imports rose 8.4 percent to $664.9 billion, resulting in a 15.1 percent decrease in the U.S. goods trade deficit with these countries. U.S. trade with non-NAFTA FTA partners was valued at $414.2 billion, up 9.6 percent, as U.S. exports increased 11.2 percent to $216.5 billion and imports increased 8.0 percent to $197.7 billion. As a result, the U.S. goods trade deficit with these countries jumped 62.1 percent to $18.8 billion.

WTO Dispute Settlement. WTO members filed 39 requests for dispute settlement consultations in new disputes in 2018, more than double the 17 filed in 2017. The U.S. was the complainant in eight of these cases and the named respondent in 19. Nine of the complaints filed against the U.S. concerned Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum products and six of the complaints filed by the U.S. concerned measures taken by other WTO members in response to those tariffs. There were 23 new dispute settlement panels established in which the U.S. was either the complainant or the respondent.

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