Japan said the number of new investigations initiated in 2014 and 2015 was high and that 154 new investigations were initiated during the first half of 2016 alone. Japan said this was a reaction to overcapacity in steel and other sectors, mainly by producers in emerging markets.
Other members took the floor to underline the link between overcapacity and increased anti-dumping activity. The United States said excess capacity in China has given members no choice but to address the problem through anti-dumping actions. Mexico said the magnitude of government intervention creates distortions and injury not only in the producer’s home market but that of other countries, while Canada said trade remedies such as anti-dumping measures are legitimate responses to these concerns and will continue to be applied if products are dumped. Canada also noted the joint paper on the role of subsidies in creating overcapacity which Canada, the US, the EU and Japan submitted to the WTO’s Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures on 25 April.
China said that the committee was not the appropriate place to discuss so-called overcapacity or government intervention. Intervention can come in both good and bad forms. So can overcapacity — market forces must be allowed to operate and to do so, competition must take place, China said.
According to the most recent annual report from the committee circulated on 1 November 2016, 267 new anti-dumping investigations were initiated by 45 WTO members between mid-2015 and mid-2016. India initiated the most investigations (66), followed by the United States (51), Pakistan (21) and Australia (18).
The report also noted that 151 definitive duty measures were imposed during this period. India imposed 38 definitive duties during this period, followed by the United States (19), Mexico (14) and the European Union (10).
European Union quizzed on draft amendments to anti-dumping legislation
The Russian Federation expressed concerns about proposed amendments to the EU’s Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation which the European Commission proposed on 9 November 2016. Russia said that while the Commission seems to have given up its “non-market economy” (NME) designation and that all WTO members will be treated as market economies, the designation is being replaced by another measure — the concept of “significant distortion” — which Russia said was WTO-inconsistent.
Bahrain (for the Gulf Cooperation Council), China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Indonesia also expressed concerns. China commended the EU’s shift away from NME designation but said the concept of “significant distortion” is not defined in any WTO agreements and seemed to be an evolved version of the NME designation with a new title. China asked the EU how it planned to implement this concept consistent with WTO rules. Several members said the Commission’s proposal raised concerns in light of the findings in Argentina’s dispute proceedings against EU dumping duties on biodiesel (DS473).
The EU noted that the Commission proposal was still subject to review and approval by the European Parliament and Council. The EU cannot prejudge the outcome of that review; thus it was not in a position at this stage to address the questions raised by members.
Concerns raised on specific anti-dumping actions
Some of the specific concerns raised regarding the anti-dumping practices of members included the following:
- Brazil said Costa Rica’s application of definitive anti-dumping duties on imports of sugar might be contrary to WTO rules and that the measure should be immediately terminated and the duties refunded. The duties were applied despite the investigative authorities recommending that the investigation be terminated without duties being imposed. Costa Rica replied that final decisions on duties were the responsibility of its Ministry of Economy and Commerce, not the investigators, and that it was difficult to see how the measure was incompatible with WTO rules.
- The European Union said it was concerned with the decision by the United States to impose anti-dumping duties on imports of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy, arguing that the dumping margins were inflated as a result of the use of the “targeted” dumping methodology which was addressed in recent WTO dispute proceedings.
- Japan once again raised concerns with long-standing US anti-dumping measures on imported Japanese products, including 16 in force for more than 20 years and one that has been in place for 38 years. Korea questioned two US practices adopted in recent dumping investigations on steel products: the use of “total facts available”, which has been facilitated by amendments adopted in 2017 giving investigators greater leeway to adopt this practice; and “particular market situation” (PMS) designation allowing market distortions in the production of foreign merchandise to be taken into account when calculating dumping margins. China and Russia echoed Korea’s concerns about the new US practices.
The United States responded that some of the investigations questioned by Japan and Korea were still ongoing. On Korea’s concern about the “total facts available” and the PMS methodology, the US said neither practices have resulted in new thresholds for imposing duties or the imposition of new standards. The US Commerce Department will continue developing the latter concept on a case-by-case basis when facts and circumstances warrant, the US said.
- Ukraine, Japan, Qatar, Turkey and China raised concerns with a number of recent anti-dumping actions taken by India. Japan questioned the practices of investigative authorities in two investigations on hot-rolled steel from Japan as well as an investigation on resorcinol. Qatar raised concerns regarding Indian investigations on several of its exports while Turkey said India did not have enough evidence to justify its investigation on Turkish soda ash. China once again raised concerns about India’s use of the “complete value chains” methodology, whereby it asks all companies in an exporting chain — including both related and unrelated companies — to respond to questionnaires in an investigation.
India said it was not possible to give detailed answers to all the concerns raised but explained in general how the investigations were carried out. On China’s concern, India said it was trying to adhere to a rational approach and that it needed to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
- Turkey raised concerns about Morocco’s decision to impose duties on Turkish hot-rolled steel, which is now the subject of a WTO dispute proceeding (DS513) as well as its decision to impose provisional ant-dumping duties on imports of Turkish refrigerators. The EU raised concerns about Morocco’s investigation on imports of ceramic tiles from Spain, which the EU said should be terminated immediately. Morocco said its investigation on imports of refrigerators from Turkey and other countries showed injury to Moroccan producers from the dumped imports. On ceramic tiles, Morocco said the investigation was still ongoing but that there was evidence showing injury to domestic producers.
China’s Protocol of Accession
China once again reminded members that Section 15(a)(ii) of its 2001 Protocol of Accession to the WTO expired on 11 December 2016 and that members can no longer use the “surrogate methodology” permitted by this provision in anti-dumping investigations. Most members using the surrogate methodology have clearly stated their intention to comply with their WTO obligations but a few have not. China asked these members to respect their WTO obligations.
Several members questioned whether the issue should continue to be discussed in the committee, as the matter was now the subject of WTO dispute proceedings (DS515 and DS516). These members also reiterated that they did not agree with China’s interpretation of the Protocol provisions.