By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor
On March 3rd, 2016 the US Department of Commerce and US International Trade Commission (USITC) were petitioned by the American HFC Coalition to initiate an antidumping duty investigation on R-134a imports from China. Later that month on March 24th, conferences were held in Washington, D.C. Based on their preliminary investigation, ITC found reasonable indication that the US R-134a industry is “materially injured” by imports of the refrigerant being sold at less than fair value.
The petitioners are a group of US domestic producers, wholesalers and suppliers of R-134a, as well as District Lodge 154 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (a labor union). They include refrigerant manufacturers Chemours, Honeywell, Arkema and Mexichem; cylinder manufacturers Amtrol and Worthington Industries; and reclaimer Hudson Technologies. Several Chinese manufacturers responded to the preliminary investigation, including Zhejiang Quhua Fluor-Chemistry Co., Ltd.; Sinochem Environmental Protection Chemicals (Taicang) Co., Ltd.; and Zhejiang Sanmei Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.
As part of the preliminary investigation, USITC received questionnaire responses from three US manufacturers, thirty US importers and six Chinese producers of R-134a refrigerant.
USITC conducted a similar investigation which ran from October 2013 to December 2014, which although it did initially cause imports of R-134a from China to be subjected to duty deposits, ultimately ended without any collections taking place. The scope of those previous investigations was the same as this current investigation with one notable difference: The 2013 petition that sparked the 15 month long investigation was submitted solely by Mexichem Fluor, Inc., although with support during hearings by then E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. This time around however, several others have joined in as noted above.
Preliminary investigation results were published in April, whereby all six Commissioners voted in the affirmative, determining that there is a reasonable indication of material injury. The US Department of Commerce (International Trade Administration) then continued its investigation on R-134a imports from China and was expected to release its preliminary antidumping duty determination by August 10th, 2016.
However with just about 13 days to go before publication, the Department postponed further action following a request made on July 13th by the American HFC Coalition. Because the request was reasonable and timely, the Department agreed, but still must issue their preliminary determination within 190 days, or by September 29, 2016.
Unless postponed, final determination is expected 75 days later, or by Monday, December 12, 2016. That should put any duties imposed on imported R-134a refrigerant from China, if approved, into the beginning of 2017.