Friday, November 1, 2013

Scope Requests: A Slippery Slope Worth Defending

AEC Board of Directors Member Jeff Henderson
I’m delighted to contribute to the Aluminum Extruders Council’s blog, So far the topics have been devoted to the Chinese aluminum extrusion imports trade case with the United States. Like me, many of you have volunteered your time, energy, and resources to this case.  For those on the Fair Trade Committee, we have learned a valuable lesson: this case is not going away!  The number of hours, the attention to detail--and yes, the money--has all been much greater than we ever imagined.  Those that continue to support illegal and unfair trade practices have been persistent in their mission to find cracks in the original orders.  As a result, scores of appeals, scope requests, court decisions, and even legislative actions have pummeled our industry in an effort to find those cracks.

After nearly 18 months of defending the orders, it is clear that we have the talent, drive, and resources required to preserve the orders.  The passion and tenacity exhibited by aluminum extruders, and their suppliers, demonstrates our resolve to keep up the fight.  I am convinced that as long as the extrusion industry keeps fighting we will keep illegal and unfair imports from destroying our marketplace.  However, it won’t be easy.  We all must contribute and make our dedication known to the Department of Commerce (DOC), Chinese exporters of aluminum extrusions, and our industry. 

Over the last couple of years we have fought dozens of scope requests that seek exclusion from tariffs.  In most cases they contend the product in question is a finished kit.  The orders clearly state that a product must be shipped complete and ready-to-assemble (or already assembled) in order to be excluded.  As each scope request is debated we must consider not only the ‘product’ in question, but also the precedent the exclusion might create.  In many recent scope requests, prior exclusions have been cited by new importers’ scope requests as motivation for the DOC to exclude their product. Those that have volunteered their time to represent the industry must weigh the nature of the product requested to be excluded, the resources and funding required to fight the request, and then determine the best legal approach. To date over 90 percent of all scope requests have been challenged by the Fair Trade Committee and our win-loss record is impressive.  

However, with every request we lose or forfeit, a new precedent is established that could result in even more requests.  It is a tough call, and one that shouldn’t be complicated by funding issues.  For this reason, we must all reach farther into our budgets and find ways to contribute the monies needed to stay vigilant.

We have also taken our case to Washington DC.  It’s not enough for us to simply fight this battle through the DOC and the courts. We need to let our elected representatives know that job retention and growth is on the line. They need to actively fight for us.  Some members from the Fair Trade Committee made a recent trip to DC and spoke with the staffs of over 10 Senators and Congressmen to get their support.  Our trip was quite successful and all of these officials gave us their loud and clear support.  Now it’s time to put that support to work!  In the coming months it is critical we continue to build on all areas of support.  There are a number of issues yet to be addressed, and as we end our first annual review we must remain resolute.


For more on the Aluminum Extrusion Fair Trade Initiative, visit www.aecfairtrade.org.

This post was written by AEC Board of Directors Member Jeff Henderson of Sapa, Inc. 

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