On Oct. 12, the International Trade Commission (ITC) hosted the Final Hearing on the petition to impose punitive duties on Chinese engineered flooring imports, in Washington, D.C.

The Alliance for Free Choice and Jobs in Flooring (AFCJF) and other respondents showed up with more than 30 witnesses registered to speak. The hearing took over eight hours. Both sides had a chance to comment on the information and economic data from the questionnaires filled in August. This information contained new data from January 2010 through June 2011.

Post-hearing briefs were filed by all parties on Oct. 19, and the Commission has until Nov. 4 to ask for any final briefs, samples, or numbers from either side. Short final written briefs called “Final Comments” must also be presented by then.

The ITC decision is currently scheduled to be announced on Nov. 22. If the petition is denied, then all preliminary duties will be lifted and duties paid up to that date will be returned to importers as the containers are liquidated.

If the ITC affirms the petition, collection of countervailing and antidumping duties will resume and enforcement of retroactive liability will begin. According to AFCJF, retroactive liability means that an importer could pay one rate for a shipment made in January 2012 but then get assessed a higher rate a year later for the same shipment.

The rates determined by the DOC on Oct. 12 are under review with final rates to be announced by Nov. 18; these rates will be collected for one year. In the fall of 2012, the DOC can begin a new review based on newly chosen mandatory respondents and may set new rates which can be imposed retroactively on all imports that entered between December 2011 and November 2012, AFCJF said.

Layo requests review of DOC rates
Also on Oct. 12, the Department of Commerce (DOC) released new rates for both antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duties on Chinese engineered flooring. The net result was a lowering of duties for the vast majority of imports, according to AFCJF. The new rates were placed into the Federal Registrar and became effective Oct. 18.

Layo has filed a brief with the DOC requesting a review of their AD rate, currently set at 3.98. If the DOC accepts their arguments, Layo will receive a zero, which will also result in a further lowering of the rates for all companies on the Separate Rates list. The DOC has until Nov. 18 to respond to Layo’s review request.

Layo’s brief and a general review of the documents provided by the DOC suggests that without the use of the “targeted dumping” calculation method all three Mandatories would have received zeros, according to AFCJF.

Targeted dumping means that an exporter is accused of not dumping to all of their customers or not during all time periods, but is instead practicing limited or “targeted” dumping to a specific region in the United States, a specific time period, or specific customers. This “targeted dumping” in affect has the same result as what is referred to as “zeroing.”

“Zeroing” is used when averaging a set of transactions from a foreign exporter. Layo has stated in their recently filed brief, and Samling is previously on the record, that without the application of targeted dumping, both companies feel they would have had zeros, or even below zero dumping margins.

The final DOC rates are currently: 3.98% AD and 0 CVD for Zhejiang Layo; 0, both rates, for Zhejiang Yuhua; 2.63% AD and 1.5% CVD for Samling Group; 3.31% AD and 1.5% CVD for Fine Furniture; 3.31% AD and 1.5% CVD for Separate Rate Companies (the majority of imports, according to AFCJF); and 58.84% AD and 26.73% CVD for the People's Republic of China All Industry Entity (estimated as less than 5 percent of imports, according to AFCJF).

CVD rates are not being collected until the end of a “gap period.” A gap period frequently occurs during such cases since the WTO (World Trade Organization) limits the length of time that a country can impose preliminary duties. Collection of the CVD will resume only if the ITC affirms the petition.