Many of you would be aware of the developments with the investigation regarding the proposed imposition of dumping and countervailing duties on Aluminium Road Wheels (“ARW”) exported from the PRC. Most recently this included the issue by Customs of a Statement of Essential Facts (“SEF”) for comment which
included the proposed recommendations by Customs that such measures should be imposed. Interested parties were invited to make further submissions on the SEF and the proposed recommendations. Following those submissions, a report to the Minister from Customs was due to be made by 12 June 2012 including recommended measures for consideration by the Minister. The Minister would then be in a position to accept (likely) or reject (unlikely) the proposed measures as set out in the report and impose such measures.
Even though the report and recommendation as to measures by Customs to the Minister is due very shortly which would allow the Minister to then impose duties on ARW shortly thereafter, Customs has taken the unexpected step of imposing interim duties and requiring securities for such measures as in ACDN 2012/21 with effect from today. This seems to have resolved the issue of Customs position on the SEF, namely that measures should be imposed, albeit at levels different to those
set out in the SEF. Although the ACDN 2012/21 and associated Preliminary Affirmative Decision is expressed as “not necessarily reflecting Customs final recommendations” that seems to be a procedural nicety – why would Customs impose such interim measures if they did not reflect its views?
The Notice was only published late yesterday and without prior notice to interested parties as would be expected to allow for the orderly administration of measures and trade. These measures are supposed to have effect from today and affected parties will need to work urgently on how securities are offered, accepted by Customs and provided Cash or credit? I would recommend documentary securities with Customs.
This interim action will create significant problems for importers, OEM, retailers of ARW and their service providers. It will also create significant additional costs at a stage before measures would reasonably be expected to be imposed. There seems little compelling reason for such action when alleged “injury” has allegedly already been happening for years and the Ministerial measures could have been as little as weeks away. A more measured approach with reasonable notice to importers and measures may well have allowed for a more efficient application of measures even if such measures had been deemed necessary.