Friday, 27 March 2020 17:00

Hughes Hubbard secures ITC ruling for Mexican steel exporter

Hughes Hubbard & Reed has obtained a critical ruling for the Mexican subsidiary of North American metals maker Cornerstone Building Brands in a dispute with US steel producers over their allegations that certain imports of fabricated structural steel (FSS) are harming them.

Matthews Nicely of Hughes HubbardIn February, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that FSS imports from Mexico, Canada and China do not hurt US manufacturers, thus invalidating the antidumping and countervailing duties calculated by the US Department of Commerce.

Headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, Cornerstone is the largest manufacturer of exterior building products in North America, serving residential and commercial customers across the continent. 

The case started in February 2019, when the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), a trade association representing US structural steel manufacturers, filed a petition against imports of FSS from Mexico, Canada and China. The steel produced and shipped by Cornerstone subsidiary Building Systems de Mexico -- which fabricates steel frames and purlins for pre-engineered metal building systems -- were deemed subject to the petition's scope.

AISC claimed in its petition that the Mexican, Canadian, and Chinese exporters of FSS were benefiting from government subsidies and selling their products to unaffiliated US customers at "less than fair value," and that US steel companies were thereby forced to lower their prices, resulting in lost revenue and lost sales.

In March 2019, the ITC preliminarily determined that there was "reasonable indication" the US steel industry was being harmed by the imported products. This prompted a separate probe into the matter by Commerce, which slapped preliminary AD and CVD duties on FSS imports from Mexico and China later that year.

In January 2020, Commerce issued final determinations announcing the AD and/or CVD duties to be imposed on FSS imports from Mexico, Canada and China. While some exporters were hit with very high duty rates (some above 100 per cent), for Cornerstone's Mexican subsidiary Commerce calculated an antidumping duty rate of 8.47 per cent and a countervailing duty rate of zero. 

The ITC's final negative injury determination means that all cash deposits that have been collected by US Customs and Border Protection from the importers affected by the case will be refunded to them. The Commission is expected to issue its written views providing the rationale for the decision on March 16.

Matt Nicely (pictured) led the HHR team representing Cornerstone, which included Dean Pinkert, Daniel Witkowski, and trade specialists Deborah Flinn and Fahri Abduhalikov.

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