Weekly Trade Briefing: March 15-19, 2021

International Trade News

Trade Update • MARCH 23, 2021

Aweekly roundup of news reports, government announcements, and other information about current and emerging developments in international trade and customs compliance.

Court of International Trade

CIT Rejects Legal Challenge to Sec. 232 Exclusion Process

In a recent appeal before the U.S. Court of International Trade, Thyssenkrupp Materials and affiliated companies argued that the Section 232 exclusion process established by Commerce regarding the steel/aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration is unfairly discriminatory and in violation of the Constitution’s Uniformity Clause. Finding the complaint lacking on multiple counts, the CIT concluded that the exclusion process is constitutionally sound and that it was properly implemented. The government’s motion to dismiss was therefore granted.

Raimondo & Biden

Commerce Subpoenas Chinese Companies for ICTS Review

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo recently announced that the department had served subpoenas on multiple Chinese companies that provide information and communications technology and services in the U.S. pursuant to a 2019 Executive Order prohibiting the sector from using goods or services sourced from “foreign adversaries”. The action taken suggests that Biden’s team intends to continue implementing the ICTS rules established by the Trump administration. The subpoenas were served to support the requirements of reviewing transactions with the potential to harm U.S. national security, critical infrastructure, or the nation’s digital economy.

Robert Lighthizer

Lighthizer Approves of Biden’s ‘Follow Through’ on China

In a television interview, former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressed approval of the Biden administration’s handling of China policy so far and admitted a phase-two deal with Beijing was always viewed as unlikely to materialize. “They say the right things and to the extent that they’ve done things—and that takes time—they’ve done the right thing,” he told Fox Business News, pointing to the Biden administration recently “defending” of Trump’s billions of dollars’ worth of Section 301 tariffs on goods from China.


The Global Supply Chain Is a Mess

There’s no escaping the supply-chain woes hitting companies world-wide, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Manufacturers of everything from cars and clothing to home siding and medical needle containers are scrambling as global economies rebound from last year’s public health lockdowns while crammed ports, container shortages and severe weather hit operations. The problems show how messy the reopening of business is proving to be a year after the pandemic’s onset, and how vulnerable supply chains remain.


U.S. Appeals WTO Decision Faulting Commerce’s AD/CVD Calculations

On Friday, the U.S. appealed another World Trade Organization decision “into the void” just ahead of its adoption. The WTO panel report in question faulted the Commerce Department for improperly calculating antidumping and countervailing duties on various steel products and transformers from South Korea. The panel ruled that Commerce had been too quick in resorting to the use of “facts available” in calculating the applicable antidumping duties. In its appeal, the Biden administration continued the U.S. government’s longstanding policy of arguing that the WTO had overstepped its mandate in altering U.S. trade remedy laws.


Final Determinations in AD/CV Duty Investigations of Mattresses From Various Countries

The Commerce Department on Friday announced final anti-dumping duties on roughly $400 million worth of mattresses from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam in a case brought by a coalition of U.S. manufacturers and organized labor unions. Dumping margins range from a low of 2.22% in the case of Indonesia to 763.28% for one exporter in Thailand. The department also announced final countervailing duties on more than $160 million worth of mattress imports from China.

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