US affirms Asian plastic bag
imports detrimental to local trade
The US International Trade Commission has determined that certain plastic bags imports from China, Malaysia, and Thailand had been materially detrimental to its domestic industry, given its sales at less than fair value, the International Trade Administration said in a press statement on Thursday, Jul 15. All six of its commissioners had voted in the affirmative, based on the investigations which were ongoing since end-June.
The plastic bags which were investigated were defined as polyethylene retail carrier bags, which also typically provided without any consumer packaging and free of charge by retail establishments. As such, the US Department of Commerce will be issuing anti-dumping orders for imports from the above-mentioned countries. The case has been ongoing since Jun 20, 2003, when the petition was filed by the Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bag Committee, and its individual members which include several domestic bag manufacturers in the US.
Asian exports of plastic bags to the US were expected to continue, primarily due to the advantage of cheaper labor cost in Asia compared to the US. Trade flows, however, may shift to the other countries in region as the dumping penalties imposed on China, Malaysia and Thailand may result in a loss of cost competitiveness from these countries. Other players however said that the dumping duties are unlikely to alter trade flows much as the duties imposed by are targeted on specific companies rather the whole country per se. As such, the convertors are just inclined to transfer their market share to local affiliates, and move to do business elsewhere. Already, some regional convertors have shifted their base centers to equally competitive, though less controversial countries like Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, US import statistics in 2003 showed that the volume of plastic bags from China and Thailand had risen by 35% and 34% respectively from the previous year, even as the investigations are being conducted. The increase in export volume may be attributed the "pre-positioning" of the stocks before the new duties are imposed, one source said. Only Malaysian imports to the US appeared to be affected with volume down 48% over the same time period.
Nevertheless, most players believed that the full impact of the dumping duties on trade patterns would become evident only by early next year.
米国商務省は2003年7月10日に反ダンピング調査を開始した。法律上は調査開始の 140 日以内、即ち11月27日までに仮決定を出す必要がある。しかし、調査の申請者からの要請があれば仮決定を50日延期できる。
Chemnet Tokyo 2003年12月09日
Chemical Week, July 16, 2003
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC; Washington) says it has launched a preliminary antidumping investigation into polyethylene (PE) bags imported into the U.S. from China, Malaysia, and Thailand. The USITC will rule by September on whether a formal investigation is warranted. A group of plastics processors, the Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bag Committee, filed the claim with USITC on June 20. "The petition claims that plastic bags are being sold in the U.S. at dumping margins of 78%-122%, resulting in a significant increase in imports," says P.J. Juvekar, analyst with Citigroup Smith Barney (New York). Imports of plastic bags from China are up 400% over the past five years, and CMAI (Houston) recently estimated that the U.S. is importing the equivalent of one world-scale PE plant in plastic bags annually.
68 FR 42002, July 16, 2003 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Initiation of Antidumping Duty Investigations: Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags from The People's Republic of China, Malaysia, and Thailand
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 16, 2003.
On June 20, 2003, the Department of Commerce (``the Department'') received a petition on imports of polyethylene retail carrier bags (``PRCBs'') from The People's Republic of China (``the PRC''), Malaysia, and Thailand, filed in proper form by PCL Packaging, Inc., Sonoco Products Company, Superbag Corp., Vanguard Plastics, Inc., and Inteplast Group, Ltd. (referred to hereafter as ``the petitioners'').
On June 25, 2003, the Department requested additional information and clarification of certain areas of the petition. The petitioners filed supplements to the petition on June 30, 2003 and July 8, 2003.
In accordance with section 732(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (``the Act''), the petitioners allege that imports of PRCBs from the PRC, Malaysia, and Thailand are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value within the meaning of section 731 of the Act and that such imports are materially injuring and threaten to injure an industry in the United States.
The Department finds that the petitioners filed this petition on behalf of the domestic industry because they are interested parties as defined in section 771(9)(c) of the Act. Furthermore, with respect to the antidumping duty investigations the petitioners are requesting the Department to initiate, they have demonstrated sufficient industry support (see ``Determination of Industry Support for the Petition'' below).
Wall Street Journal 2003/10/10
Plastic Bag Fight Pits U.S.
Makers V. U.S. Importers
By THADDEUS HERRICK
When fierce overseas competition forced a Sonoco Products Co. plastic bag-making business to close its Santa Maria, Calif., plant last year, ending 100 jobs, the company went on the offensive.
Sonoco and four other U.S. makers of plastic shopping bags, used by grocery and department stories, charged that manufacturers in China, Thailand and Malaysia were violating U.S. antidumping laws by selling the bags in the U.S. below cost. In a petition to the International Trade Commission, the U.S. manufacturers, calling themselves the Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bag Committee, charged that the alleged dumping cost them $300 million a year in sales.
But the fight over products that cost as little as a penny apiece involves a surprising web of allies and adversaries, underscoring just how complex global trade has become.
The issue also highlights the difficulty in distinguishing between U.S. and foreign manufacturers: In the dispute, some U.S. producers are aligned against other U.S. companies that have turned to Asia for their own bag production. Two of the manufacturers crying foul are linked to foreign companies -- one Canadian and one Taiwanese -- while a third company relies on a Mexican business by the same name to serve as a distributor and supplier. Yet another company supporting the petition just opened a plant in China.
At the same time, the petition has drawn the ire of a major customer, retailer Target Inc., which argues that U.S. manufacturers are exaggerating their losses and simply can't match the quality of the Asian producers.
"It would be almost laughable if it weren't so bloody serious," says Vic Platta, vice president of sales and marketing for Advance Polybag of Metairie, La., a company Sonoco is accusing of dumping. Advance recently invested $7.1 million in a Thai plant that is expected to meet 20% of U.S. demand, making it an "imminent threat" to other U.S. companies, according to the petition before the trade commission.
The petition could prevail. The U.S. has filed 17 antidumping orders against a variety of imports from China in the past five years, and in August, the commission ruled it had adequate evidence that U.S. plastic bag-makers had been harmed -- or threatened with harm -- to justify a full investigation. A preliminary ruling is expected from the Department of Commerce as early as late November.
In addition to Sonoco, which is based in Hartsville, S.C., the petitioners include Superbag Corp. of Houston, Vanguard Plastics Inc., Inteplast Group Ltd., and PCL Packaging Inc., whose Canadian parent PCL Packaging Corp. is based in Barrie, Ontario. At least six other companies in the U.S. and Canada are listed as supporters of the petition.
Complicating the case, some of the petitioners themselves have business ties to foreign companies. For example, Inteplast, of Livingston, N.J., is partially owned by an Asian bag maker, Formosa Plastics Group of Taiwan. Superbag is owned by a family that once owned a plastics-making business in Mexico and maintains a "strategic alliance" with Superbag de Mexico. Testimony before the International Trade Commission further revealed that Vanguard, of Dallas, has imported from Hong Kong, and Sonoco from Brazil.
The U.S. companies trace their woes back to 2000, when plastic shopping-bag imports from China, Thailand and Malaysia began to surge. From 2000 to 2002, the companies say, those three countries doubled their U.S. market share, to 30% of bags sold from 15%. U.S. makers saw their share fall to 60% from 80% in the period. From 2002 to 2003, Asian imports rose 18% more, the petitioners say.
In 2001, Vanguard closed its Compton, Calif., plant, laying off 50 workers, leaving seven plants still in operation in the U.S. This year, Sonoco shut all five of its U.S. plants for four days over Memorial Day and six days over the Fourth of July because of mounting inventories. "We're just hanging on," says Rex Varn, Sonoco's division vice president and general manager.
U.S. manufacturers argue that plastic bags produced in the U.S. and Asia are the same quality, but that Internet bidding has forced the price down, allowing aggressive Asian companies to bid below their real cost. They say the Asian producers want to put the U.S. manufacturers out of business, seizing the U.S. market's 100 billion plastic bags a year.
Most retailers buy bags from Asia through distributors, and have been reluctant to involve themselves in the trade spat. But Target, the nation's second-largest retailer and one of the few companies to purchase the bulk of its 1.8 billion bags a year via the Internet, has come out swinging against the petition.
Jim Johnson, who heads procurement for Target, testified before the International Trade Commission that U.S. producers seldom meet Target's specification's for bags 24 inches in length, nor does their printing produce clear, crisp images like the Asian manufacturers. Once, said Mr. Johnson, a domestic producer delivered Target bags with the name Wal-Mart printed in the pleat. "Quality issues of this type have a significant impact on our purchasing decisions," he said in testimony. In an interview, Mr. Johnson said that he was surprised the U.S. manufacturers filed a petition.
Another force buffeting U.S. manufacturers is the soaring price of U.S. natural gas, which produces the resin used to make plastic for the bags. Asian producers purchase their resins from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East, where the price of gas is barely above $1.50 per million British thermal units. The price of U.S. natural gas, by contrast, has run between $4 and $6 per million BTU most of this year.
U.S. companies don't talk about the sharply lower costs of natural gas for Asian manufacturers, because it weakens their complaint about dumping. Yet such savings have undoubtedly lured some American concerns to set up operations in Asia, too, further blurring the distinctions between U.S. and foreign companies. Ampac Packaging LLC of Cincinnati testified against Asian manufacturers, despite opening a plant in Nanjing, China, last year. The company did so "purely as a defensive measure against import competition," John Dill, the company's chief financial, officer told commissioners.
By most accounts, antidumping measures would wipe out the plastic-bag-making industry in China, Thailand and Malaysia. People opposed to penalties say that if those imports are stopped, plastic bags will simply come from somewhere else where labor is inexpensive. "I don't care what the petitioners say," William Perry, a lawyer for some Chinese exporters and U.S. importers, told commissioners, "these bags will never be produced in the United States."
68 FR 61656, October 29, 2003
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Notice of Postponement of Preliminary Determinations in Antidumping Duty Investigations: Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags From the People's Republic of China, Malaysia, and Thailand
ACTION: Notice of postponement of preliminary determinations in antidumping duty investigations.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 29, 2003.
SUMMARY: The Department of Commerce is postponing the preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty investigations of polyethylene retail carrier bags from the People's Republic of China, Malaysia, and Thailand from November 27, 2003, until January 16, 2004. These postponements are made pursuant to section 733(c)(1)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended.
Postponements of Due Dates for Preliminary Determinations
On July 10, 2003, the Department of Commerce (``the Department'') initiated the antidumping duty investigations of imports of polyethylene retail carrier bags from the People's Republic of China, Malaysia, and Thailand. See Initiation of Antidumping Duty Investigations: Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags From The People's Republic of China, Malaysia, and Thailand, 68 FR 42002 (July 16, 2003).
In accordance with section 733(b)(1)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (``the Act''), the notice of initiation stated that the Department would issue its preliminary determinations no later than 140 days after the date of initiation, or November 27, 2003. See id.
On October 16, 2003, the petitioners, the Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bag Committee and its individual members, PCL Packaging, Inc., Sonoco Products Company, Superbag Corp., Vanguard Plastics, Inc., and Inteplast Group, Ltd., made a request for a 50-day postponement of the preliminary determinations, pursuant to section 733(c)(1)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(e). Under section 733(c)(1)(A) of the Act, if the petitioners make a timely request for an extension of the period within which the preliminary determination must be made under subsection 733(b)(1), the Department may postpone making its preliminary determination by no more than 50 days after the date on which the preliminary determination is normally due. Petitioner's request for postponement was timely, and the Department finds no compelling reason to deny the request. Therefore, in accordance with section 733(c)(1) of the Act, the Department is postponing the deadlines for issuing the preliminary determinations.
January 16, 2004, is 50 days from November 27, 2003, and therefore, in accordance with section 733(c)(1)(A) of the Act, the Department is postponing the preliminary determinations in these investigations until January 16, 2004.
This notice is issued and published pursuant to section 733(c)(2) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(f).