A trio of PET sheet makers are seeking federal help in what they are calling illegal dumping in the United States by suppliers from three other countries.
Advanced Extrusion Inc. of Rogers, Minn., Ex-Tech Plastics Inc. of Richmond, Ill., and Multi-Plastics Extrusions Inc. of Hazelton, Pa., all claim PET sheet imports from Oman, South Korea and Mexico are undercutting the domestic market.
They want the U.S. government to impose antidumping duties, or a tariff to protect domestic manufacturers, on companies in the three countries that export into the United States.
The three companies are represented by law firm Kelley Drye & Warren LLP.
"The industry has been suffering from the effect of low price imports for quite a while and ultimately decided they have to take action. Low prices have resulted in lower volumes of sales and lower prices on sales that they can realize and depressed profits," plaintiffs' attorney Paul Rosenthal said.
"It's been going on for several years," he said.
U.S. producers have been forced to lower prices "to unsustainable levels" or lose business, Rosenthal said.
Octal Extrusion Corp. operates PET manufacturing and sheet operations in Oman with a direct process that allows the company to bypass the manufacture of pellets. Molten PET is, instead, made into sheet, a move that the company said saves money.
Joe Barenberg is chief operating officer for Octal and based in the United States. He could not be reached for comment, but the company denied the dumping claims in published reports.
A petition seeking action has been filed with both the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission.
While the alleged dumping has been going on for years, Rosenthal said, the companies claim the allegedly underpriced PET sheet started surging into the U.S. market during the first quarter.
The petition seeks action on PET sheet ranging from 7-45 millimeters, a product that is primarily used by packaging thermoforms.
The commerce department and trade commission will undertake simultaneous but separate investigations. Rosenthal said those are expected to take 12-14 months to complete. Commerce officials will determine whether the countries are dumping PET sheet, and trade officials will determine whether the U.S. companies are being hurt.
"I would regard this as the last step. The companies have done what they can to cut their cost, do everything they can to be competitive. But when foreign producers are selling at the prices they are selling at, it's hard to cut your way to prosperity," Rosenthal said.