twist tie China trade case

On June 26, 2020, Bedford Industries Inc. (Petitioner) filed antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) petitions against Twist Ties from China.

Yes – twist ties – the thin bendable ties used to close garbage bags, bundle broccoli and other vegetables, and tie up all sorts of other stuff.  The petition does not publicly disclose the volume or value of the U.S. market for twist ties, but it’s gotta be small.  It probably rivals other cases such as Metal Calendar Slides from Japan and Commodity Matchbooks from India for the smallest industries to seek the U.S. government’s help for protection from import competition.

Twist ties account for such a tiny portion of the overall cost of any of the product that uses them.  Consumers likely would not notice if the cost of imported Chinese twist ties increased by 67.92%, the dumping margin alleged by the petitioner; hell, they probably wouldn’t notice if the price of twist ties doubled or even tripled.  But the twist tie producers and distributors who are selling to garbage bag producers, or to growers who need twist ties for their veggies, any significant increase caused by AD/ CVD duties could wipe out their razor thin profit margins on their sales of twist ties.  So although the size of the U.S. market for twist ties may be really small in the big scheme of things, for the small handful of players in this market, this case becomes a critical case to test whether they can continue to survive in this industry.

This case will play out before two U.S. agencies, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“DOC”) and U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  The ITC will determine if a domestic industry is injured by reason of the subject imports. The DOC will investigate whether the named subject imports are being sold to the United States at less than fair value (“dumping”) or benefit from unfair government subsidies, and determine the amount of AD/CVD duties to impose.

Below is a summary of what products are covered by the petition, who is affected by this petition and the schedule for the AD/CVD investigations.

Scope

The petition identifies the merchandise to be covered by this AD/CVD investigation as twist ties, which are thin, bendable ties for closing containers, such as bags, bundle items, or identifying objects.  A twist tie is comprised of one or more metal wires encased n a covering material (e.g., paper, plastic), which allows the tie to retain its shape and bind against itself.  Twist ties have a wide range of widths and thicknesses and can be sold as singles, or in spools, or in perforated sheets of spooled or single twist ties.

The scope includes ties used for television cable, computer cords, and other appliances and household ties.  Twist ties without metal wire also are covered in the scope, such as all plastic tie that contains a plastic core and plastic covering (wing) over the core.

The scope does not include products with wire and plastic material (e.g., pipe cleaners used in craft activities, wire bristle brushes) or plastic “zip” ties.

Twist ties are imported into the United States under Harmonized Tariff System of the United States (“HTSUS”) subheadings 8309.90.0000 and 5609.00.3000. Subject merchandise may also enter under HTSUS subheadings 3906.90.2000, 3920.51.5000, 3923.90.0080, 3926.90.9990, 4811.59.6000, 4821.10.4000, 4821.90.2000, and 4823.90.8600. These HTSUS subheadings are provided for reference only. The written description of the scope of the investigations is dispositive.

See here for the proposed scope definition from the petition.

Alleged AD/CVD Margins.

Petitioner calculated estimated dumping margins of 67.92%.

Petitioner did not provide any specific Chinese subsidy margin calculations.

Named Exporters/ Producers

Petitioner included a list of companies that it believes are producers and exporters of the subject merchandise.  See attached list here.

Named U.S. Importers

Petitioner included a list of companies that it believes are U.S. importers of the subject merchandise.  See attached list here.

 

Estimated Schedule of Investigations.

June 26, 2020 – Petitions filed

July 16, 2020 – DOC initiates investigation

July 17, 2020 – ITC Staff Conference

August 10, 2020 – ITC preliminary determination

November 23, 2020 – DOC CVD preliminary determination (assuming extended deadline) (9/19/20 – unextended)

January 22, 2021 – DOC AD preliminary determination (assuming extended deadline) (12/3/20 – unextended)

June 6, 2021 – DOC final determination (extended and AD/CVD aligned)

July 21, 2021 – ITC final determination (extended)

July 28, 2021 – DOC AD/CVD orders issued (extended)