The federal government has delayed a preliminary decision in an anti-dumping case brought by U.S. plastic bag makers.
The Department of Commerce had been scheduled to deliver its preliminary decision Nov. 26, but the agency will now wait until Jan. 16 to decide whether plastic retail carrier bags from China, Malaysia and Thailand should have punitive tariffs.
A department spokesman said the case is complex and the extension is routine.
A lawyer representing some Chinese exporters and U.S. importers said he expects the Commerce Department will find dumping because of the way the U.S. government rules are written.
``In 99 percent of the cases, the Commerce Department finds dumping,'' said William Perry, a lawyer with Garvey Schubert Barer in Seattle. ``The issue is not whether the companies are dumping. The only question is what is the [tariff imposed].''
Chinese firms are hoping for a tariff of less than 10 percent, he said.
A lawyer representing U.S. companies, Stephen Jones with King & Spalding LLP in Washington, also said he expects the government to impose duties, which he expects to be much higher than 10 percent.
Perry said the U.S. government would likely find dumping because government investigators do not use actual manufacturing costs in China but rather use costs in India as a surrogate. India is considered a market economy, but China is not.
A Jan. 16 decision may not be final. If the Commerce Department decides there is dumping, it will begin a final investigation, including visits to factories in the three countries. After that, the case would go back to the U.S. International Trade Commission, where Perry said it is likely to face a strong challenge.
Perry claimed an August decision from ITC that moved the case to the Commerce Department was a weak victory for the U.S. industry because the agency found only a ``threat of material injury,'' not actual injury. But Jones disagreed, noting that ITC's four commissioners made their decision unanimously.