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Policy

Chemical makers step up dumping claims

Congress, Trump Administration have signaled willingness to investigate low-priced imports

by Melody M. Bomgardner
October 9, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 40

Credit: Shutterstock
Cheap imports of polyethylene terephthalate resins, used to make soda bottles, have caused a trade dispute.

U.S.-based chemical makers are pressing claims that overseas competitors are underpricing exports in an effort to steal market share, a practice known as dumping. The trade complaints come as Congress and the Trump Administration say they will take aggressive action to protect domestic manufacturers from unfair trade practices.

Four major polymer companies with operations in the U.S.—DAK Americas, Indorama Ventures USA, M&G Polymers USA, and Nan Ya Plastics —have filed petitions alleging that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin makers in Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Korea, and Taiwan are pricing exports to the U.S. at less than fair value.

PET is used to make basic goods including soda bottles and polyester fibers. The U.S. producers claim that dumping is causing them financial injury and are asking the U.S. government to impose antidumping duties on the imports. They point out that U.S. imports of PET from the countries rose by 305% to over 270 million kg from 2014 to 2016.

Separately, the U.S.-based chemical company Chemours claims that Chinese and Indian producers of polytetrafluoroethylene, a resin that Chemours sells under the trade name Teflon, are dumping products in the U.S. Chemours says the Indian companies unfairly benefit from export subsidies awarded by the government of India.

The petitions will kick off investigations by the U.S. Commerce Department to determine if imported products are unfairly priced and by how much. If dumping allegations hold up, the U.S. International Trade Commission then determines if domestic producers are truly harmed by the practice. The government can impose antidumping duties to level the playing field.

Domestic manufacturers are likely emboldened by the Trump Administration’s tough talk on enforcing trade rules, according to trade attorneys contacted by C&EN. In addition, Congress has also tightened trade provisions to make it harder to evade antidumping duties.

“I think there is definitely a trend in more filings,” says George Tuttle III, a San Francisco-based trade attorney. “We really see a tightening down, with the U.S. government trying to quell all of this industry complaint and a congressional fervor for action to protect domestic industry.”

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