Commerce Department to assess tariff on dry-freight containers

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced September 23 that it plans to require cash deposits from several companies that manufacture 53-foot domestic dry-freight containers in China.

The deposit is associated with an estimated countervailing duty, or tariff, that will be levied on 53-foot domestic dry-freight containers imported from China.   Rates ranged from 7.13% to 10.46%.

According to the Commerce Department’s preliminary finding, the Government of China is providing unfair and illegal subsidies to producers and exporters of 53-foot dry containers built in that country. As a result, imports of these containers from all Chinese producers are now subject to the cash deposit requirement.

The unfair trade investigations of imports from China were conducted in response to a petition filed in April 2014 by Stoughton Trailers, LLC, the sole U.S. producer of 53-foot domestic dry containers. Stoughton Trailers, headquartered in Stoughton, Wisconsin, alleged in its petition that unfairly traded imports of these containers from China have prevented the company from establishing a competitive footing in the U.S. market.

The cash deposit requirements announced on September 23 are preliminary. A final determination will be made by the Department of Commerce in the first half of 2015, which could change the cash deposit requirement rates.  Between now and then, Commerce Department officials will conduct on-site investigation activities with the Chinese producers to verify the information presented in their questionnaire responses. There will also be opportunities for all parties to the investigation to present additional factual information, as well as legal arguments, to the Department.

The Department of Commerce is also investigating whether imports of 53-foot domestic dry containers from China should be subject to an antidumping tariff, as well. A preliminary determination in this parallel antidumping investigation would, if affirmative, further increase the cash deposit required to import these 53-foot containers from China. That preliminary determination will be announced in late-November 2014.

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