US DOC pushes antidumping duty deadline back to May

The U.S.-China trade case is turning into another industry saga. The new deadline by which the DOC has to reach a preliminary decision on whether to impose import duties on Chinese-made photovoltaic modules is May 16, 2012. The move follows calls from the petitioner, SolarWorld Industries America Inc., for a postponement, submitted on March 2.

Originally, the deadline was set at January 12. However, at the beginning of January, the date was moved back to February 13. Then again, at the end of January, it was announced that the deadline had been pushed to March 2. Finally, at the start of March, the deadline was changed to March 27.

In a notice issued by the International Trade Administration on March 13, the DOC said, "SolarWorld Industries America Inc. ("Petitioner"), made a timely request … for postponement of the preliminary determination in this investigation. Petitioner requested a 30-day postponement of the preliminary determination in order to provide the Department with sufficient time to review the questionnaire responses and issue appropriate requests for clarification and additional information."

The DOC went on to explain that provided the petitioner is seen to be cooperating, and the nature of the case is found to be "extraordinarily complicated", then a postponement can be enacted. In this case, once again, the DOC both concluded that the parties involved were cooperating and that the case was extraordinarily complicated.

The notice concluded, "Since the initiation of this investigation, the mandatory respondents filed timely, extensive questionnaire and supplemental questionnaire responses. Further, the instant investigation involves a technologically sophisticated product that is manufactured through a complex, multi-stage production process using numerous factors of production.

"Accordingly, the methodology employed to report FOP data is inherently complex. Moreover, additional time is necessary in order to issue the preliminary determination. For the forgoing reasons, the Department determines that this investigation in extraordinarily complicated … and that a full extension of the preliminary determination is necessary."

Also at the start of March, it was reported that U.S. Congress had moved swiftly to pass legislation that would enable the DOC to continue applying countervailing duty law to non-market economies, such as China and Vietnam.

The next stop for the Countervailing Duty Act is the Oval Office, where President Barack Obama is certain to sign it into law, sooner rather than later. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said that the Obama administration had helped to craft the measure.