In August 2004, the Department of Commerce imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of plastic bags from China, Malaysia and Thailand. Since then, our law firm, which represented the petitioners in that case, has received numerous questions regarding the anti-dumping orders. This letter addresses some of those questions.
The bags that are subject to anti-dumping duties are made of polyethylene and are typically, but not always, provided individually and free by retailers to their customers to carry purchased products.
The orders cover bags with handles (including drawstrings), with or without printing, that have a thickness between 0.00035 and 0.035 inch, and that have no length or width less than 6 inches or more than 40 inches.
Imports from two companies in China and one company in Malaysia are currently exempt from duties, because the department found that their dumping margins were de minimis, that is, less than 2 percent.
The domestic industry, however, has appealed the Commerce Department's calculation to the U.S. Court of International Trade. If that appeal is successful, imports from those two companies also will be subject to duties, retroactive to at least August 2004.
In addition, any bags exported by the three currently excluded companies are subject to anti-dumping duties if they were actually produced by other companies.
U.S. importers are required to pay anti-dumping duty cash deposits to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection with each entry of covered bags. The cash deposit is equal to the estimated dumping margins multiplied by the customs value of the bags.
The final anti-dumping duty owed, which may be higher than the cash deposits paid, is not determined until after the completion of the first administrative review and any appeals.
The first review may be requested in August 2005 and must be completed by February 2007. An appeal of the final results in the administrative review could last another one to two years. Thus, there is no way for U.S. importers to know today the extent of their ultimate liability for anti-dumping duties.
Moreover, importers must certify that their duties have not been reimbursed by their foreign suppliers.
Customs may impose significant civil and criminal penalties for illegal efforts to avoid payment of anti-dumping duties. For example, it would be illegal for a covered Chinese producer to attempt to avoid the duties by transshipping the bags through another country that it falsely claims is the country where the bags were produced.
I hope that this letter will help U.S. importers and retailers avoid any civil or criminal penalties for failure to comply with the anti-dumping orders.
Joseph W. Dorn
Counsel for Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bag Committee
King & Spalding LLP
Editor's note: A link to additional information about the duties is available in the Opinion section of PlasticsNews.com.