Justia International Trade Opinion Summaries

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The case involves three organizations of Spanish olive producers (collectively “Asemesa”) who appealed a decision by the Court of International Trade (“the Trade Court”) regarding a countervailing duty imposed on olives imported from Spain. Asemesa argued that an order from the Department of Commerce imposing a countervailing duty on imported olives was contrary to law and that the Trade Court should have overturned the order. The United States and the Coalition for Fair Trade in Ripe Olives argued that Commerce’s factual findings were supported by substantial evidence and that the Trade Court’s decision should be upheld.The Trade Court had previously reversed a decision by Commerce, concluding that the evidence that table olives accounted for 8 percent of the demand for raw olives did not show that the demand for raw olives was “substantially dependent” on the demand for table olives. The case was remanded to Commerce for further analysis. On remand, Commerce redefined the market for the prior stage product as the raw olives that the olive industry considers principally suitable for use in the production of table olives. The Trade Court rejected Commerce’s analysis, reasoning that Commerce’s market definition would “render the requirements of Section 1677–2 largely self-fulfilling.” The case was remanded to Commerce for a second time to correctly define the relevant market for the prior stage product and analyze whether the demand for the prior stage product was substantially dependent on the demand for table olives.On the second remand, Commerce again redefined the relevant market for the prior stage product, this time defining that market as consisting of the olives from varietals that the Spanish government considers suitable for processing into table olives, including dual-use varietals. Commerce calculated that 55.28 percent of all olives from varietals suitable for processing into table olives were indeed sold as table olives. Commerce adopted the Trade Court’s interpretation of the “substantially dependent” provision in section 1677–2 as requiring that more than half of the prior stage product be processed into the relevant finished good. Accordingly, Commerce determined that the demand for olive varietals suitable for processing into table olives was substantially dependent on the demand for table olives, and that a countervailing duty on table olives from Spain was warranted to offset the subsidies provided to Spanish olive growers. This time, the Trade Court sustained Commerce’s analysis.Asemesa now appeals the Trade Court’s determination. Asemesa argues that Commerce’s interpretation of the statute was contrary to law, and that Commerce’s factual analysis was not supported by substantial evidence. Although the court's interpretation of section 1677–2 and its analysis of the factual record in this case differ from the Trade Court’s, the court agrees with that court’s ultimate conclusion on both issues. The court affirms the Trade Court's decision. View "ASOCIACION DE EXPORTADORES E INDUSTRIALES v. US " on Justia Law

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The case involves an appeal by Wheatland Tube Company against a decision by the U.S. Court of International Trade, which affirmed the U.S. Department of Commerce’s remand determination concerning the scope of an antidumping duty order on certain steel pipes imported from Thailand. The dispute centers on whether certain imports of steel pipes, specifically those that are "dual-stenciled" as both standard pipes and line pipes, fall within the scope of the existing antidumping duty order.The U.S. Court of International Trade initially found that the Department of Commerce unlawfully expanded the scope of the antidumping duty order by determining that it covered dual-stenciled pipes. On remand, the Department of Commerce, under protest, concluded that the antidumping duty order did not cover dual-stenciled pipes. The U.S. Court of International Trade sustained this determination.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of International Trade. The Court of Appeals held that the Department of Commerce’s initial determination that dual-stenciled pipes fall within the scope of the antidumping duty order was reasonable and supported by substantial evidence. The Court of Appeals found that the lower court's interpretation lacked support in the record and failed to give sufficient deference to the Department of Commerce under the substantial evidence standard of review. View "SAHA THAI STEEL PIPE PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED v. US " on Justia Law

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In 2020, Zircon Corp. filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission alleging that Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. and Black & Decker (U.S.), Inc. violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing and selling electronic stud finders that infringed on Zircon's patents. The Commission instituted an investigation based on Zircon's complaint. A Commission Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found no violation of section 337. On review, the Commission affirmed the ALJ's finding of no violation.The Commission's decision was based on two independent reasons. First, it affirmed the ALJ's determination that Zircon had not satisfied the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement. Zircon had argued that it met this requirement based on its investment in plant and equipment, its employment of labor and capital, and its investment in the exploitation of the asserted patents. However, the Commission found that Zircon had not provided an adequate basis to evaluate the investments and the significance of those investments with respect to each asserted patent.Second, the Commission found each of the claims of the patents that were before the Commission were either invalid or not infringed. The Commission found that all the asserted claims of one patent would have been obvious in view of four prior art references; that several claims of two other patents were invalid as anticipated by or obvious in light of Zircon’s original stud finder; and that several of the claims of these two patents were not infringed.Zircon appealed the Commission's decision, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission's decision. The court agreed with the Commission's interpretation of section 337 and found that substantial evidence supported the Commission's finding that Zircon failed to meet its burden to prove the existence of a domestic industry relating to articles protected by each of its patents. View "ZIRCON CORP. v. ITC " on Justia Law

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The case involves Rimco Inc., an importer and reseller of wheels, who appealed against the United States Court of International Trade's dismissal of its action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Rimco sought judicial review of a denied protest against the assessment of countervailing and antidumping duties by Customs and Border Protection. Rimco argued that the Court of International Trade had exclusive jurisdiction to review the denial of protests under 28 U.S.C. § 1581(a), or alternatively, residual jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1581(i).Previously, the Court of International Trade had dismissed Rimco's action, stating that it lacked jurisdiction under § 1581(a) because Customs' application of antidumping and countervailing duties was not a protestable decision. The court also found that it lacked jurisdiction under § 1581(i) because jurisdiction under § 1581(c) would have been available if Rimco had sought administrative review of Commerce’s antidumping and countervailing duties determinations.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Court of International Trade's dismissal. The court held that Customs' ministerial assessment of antidumping and countervailing duties was not a protestable decision. Furthermore, the court found that jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1581(c) would have been available and not manifestly inadequate if Rimco had not failed to exhaust administrative remedies. Therefore, the Court of International Trade correctly dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Rimco Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The case at hand involves United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel), an Australian producer and exporter of hot-rolled steel, BlueScope Steel (AIS) Pty Ltd., and its affiliated U.S. importer, BlueScope Steel Americas, Inc. U.S. Steel alleged that the Australian company had reimbursed its U.S. affiliate for antidumping duties, a claim which BlueScope denied. The core dispute arose from differing interpretations of a supply agreement between the companies, which determined the pricing of the steel products.Prior to reaching the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the case was reviewed by the United States Court of International Trade. This lower court sustained the Department of Commerce's determination that BlueScope had not reimbursed its U.S. importer for antidumping duties. The court found that the agency's determination was supported by substantial evidence and was otherwise in accordance with the law.Upon reaching the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the court reviewed the decisions of the Court of International Trade de novo, applying the same standard of review used by the trial court in reviewing the administrative record before the agency. The appeals court upheld the decision made by the lower court, finding that the agency's determination was supported by substantial evidence and was in accordance with the law. The court also held that the agency did not err in its interpretation of the antidumping duty regulation, and therefore did not depart from an established practice. As a result, the appeals court affirmed the lower court's decision. View "United States Steel Corporation v. United States" on Justia Law

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The case involves RKW Klerks Inc. (RKW), an importer of net wraps used to wrap round bales of harvested crops, who contested the classification of its products by the United States Customs and Border Protection (Customs) under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Customs had classified the net wraps under HTSUS Chapter 60 under subheading 6005.39.00 as “warp knit fabric,” dutiable at the rate of 10% ad valorem. RKW argued that the net wraps should be classified under Chapter 84, subheading 8433.90.50 as “parts” of harvesting machinery or alternatively subheading 8436.99.00 as “parts” of other agricultural machinery.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the decision of the United States Court of International Trade (CIT) that the net wraps were not a part of harvesting or other agricultural machinery. The court reasoned that the net wraps were not dedicated solely for use with baling machines, nor were they integral to the function of the machines. The court further noted that the net wraps performed a function outside of the machine, maintaining the shape of the bale after it had been compressed and released, and thus could not be classified as a part of the machine.The court therefore affirmed the CIT’s decision that the net wraps were correctly classified under HTSUS Chapter 60 under subheading 6005.39.00 as “warp knit fabric,” rather than as parts of harvesting or other agricultural machinery. View "RKW KLERKS INC. v. US " on Justia Law

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In the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the case involved Peter Sotis, who was convicted for violating export controls. He had conspired to export diving equipment, specifically rebreathers, to Libya without a license, despite the Department of Commerce requiring a license to export certain products to Libya that implicate the United States’ national security interests.Sotis challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support each count of his conviction, the opinion testimony presented at trial, and the reasonableness of his 57-month sentence. He argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove willfulness, to prove that he and another individual had acted in conspiracy, and to prove that the rebreathers were closed-circuit, which would have resulted in a material and prejudicial variance from the indictment. He also claimed that one expert witness and one lay witness invaded the province of the jury by opining on an ultimate issue in the case.The Court of Appeals found that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that Sotis had sufficient knowledge of the illegality of his conduct to have willfully violated the export control laws. The Court also found that the government sufficiently proved that Sotis conspired with another individual to violate the export control laws. Moreover, the Court rejected Sotis's argument that there was a material variance between the indictment and the evidence presented at trial.Regarding the expert and lay witness testimonies, the Court held that the testimonies were not improper. The Court also found that the district court did not err in applying the sentencing guidelines and that Sotis's sentence was not substantively unreasonable. As a result, the Court affirmed Sotis's conviction and sentence. View "USA v. Sotis" on Justia Law

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The case involves the classification of certain knit gloves with partial plastic coating under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States Court of International Trade that the gloves are properly classified under heading 6116. The plaintiff, Magid Glove & Safety Manufacturing Co. LLC, imported the gloves from China and South Korea and argued that the gloves should have been classified under subheading 3926.20.10, a duty-free provision. However, the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals disagreed, stating that the gloves are not "of plastics" as required by heading 3926, but are "knitted" as described by heading 6116. The Court of Appeals also rejected the plaintiff's argument that Section XI Note 1(h) and the "completely embedded" test applied in a previous case excluded the gloves from classification under heading 6116. The court concluded that the term "completely embedded" does not appear in Section XI Note 1(h) or the two competing headings in this case and is not applicable to the classification of the gloves. View "MAGID GLOVE & SAFETY MANUFACTURING CO. LLC v. US" on Justia Law

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In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was asked to review a decision by the United States Court of International Trade. The dispute arose from an anti-dumping investigation conducted by the Department of Commerce into the sale of certain welded carbon steel pipes from Thailand, specifically those sold by Saha Thai Steel Pipe Public Company Limited and Thai Premium Pipe Company Ltd.The Department of Commerce initially found that the costs of producing these pipes were distorted by a "particular market situation" (PMS) in Thailand that affected the cost of hot rolled steel coil, a crucial component in the production of these pipes. As a result, the Department made upward adjustments to the production costs of these companies when calculating the anti-dumping margins, which impacted the duty rates assigned to each company. This decision was challenged in the Court of International Trade, which found that the Department had overstepped its statutory authority.The Court of International Trade ruled, based on the precedent set in Hyundai Steel Co. v. United States, that the Department of Commerce was not allowed to make a PMS adjustment to the cost of production when determining anti-dumping margins. The court remanded the case to the Department to recalculate the dumping margins without the PMS adjustment.The case was subsequently appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The appellant, Wheatland Tube Company, argued that this case could be distinguished from Hyundai Steel because the Department had relied on a subsection of the statute to adjust the cost of production upward to account for a PMS by framing it as a constructed value calculation. The Court of Appeals disagreed, affirming the lower court's decision and holding that the statute does not authorize PMS adjustments to cost of production calculations, regardless of how the Department attempted to frame it. View "SAHA THAI STEEL PIPE PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED v. US " on Justia Law

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In 2018, Presidential Proclamation 9693 imposed duties on imports of solar panels, starting at 30% and scheduled to decrease each year to 25%, 20%, and in the final year, 15%. Importers of bifacial solar modules, consisting of cells that convert sunlight into electricity on both the front and back of the cells, petitioned the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), asking that bifacial solar panels not be subjected to the duties. Ultimately, bifacial solar panels were excluded from the duties. In October 2020, Presidential Proclamation 10101, “modified” Proclamation 9693 to withdraw the exclusion of bifacial solar panels from the scheduled duties, and to increase the fourth-year duty rate to 18%. IImporters of bifacial solar panels sued, alleging that the statute authorizing the President to “modify” Proclamation 9693 only allowed him to make previously adopted safeguard measures more trade-liberalizing while eliminating the exclusion of bifacial panels and raising the fourth-year duty were trade-restrictive. They further argued that even if the President had the authority to “modify” safeguards in a trade-restrictive direction, he failed to follow appropriate procedures.The Trade Court agreed that the authority to “modify” a safeguard is limited to trade-liberalizing changes but rejected the procedural challenges under the Trade Act, 19 U.S.C. 2251. The Federal Circuit reversed. The President’s interpretation of the statute, which allows him to “modify” an existing safeguard in a trade-restricting direction, is not unreasonable. In adopting Proclamation 10101, the President committed no significant procedural violation. View "Solar Energy Industries Association v. United States" on Justia Law