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PUBLIC DOCUMENT

July 24, 2006

  Hogan & Hartson LLP
Columbia Square
555 Thirteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Tel.: +1.202.637.5600
Fax: +1.202.637.5910
www.hhlaw.com
 
Lewis E. Leibowitz, Partner
Lynn G. Kamarck, Counsel


BY HAND DELIVERY

David M. Spooner
Assistant Secretary for Import Administration
Central Records Unit, Room 1870
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20230

Re:   Proposed Procedures for Importation of Supplies for Use
in Emergency Relief Work, 71 Fed. Reg. 35846 (June 22, 2006)

Dear Secretary Spooner:

These comments are submitted on behalf of the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (“CITAC”) in response to the proposal of the Department of Commerce (“Department”) to establish procedures for importation of supplies for use in emergency relief work without being subject to antidumping or countervailing duties.  71 Fed. Reg. 35846-35847 (June 22, 2006).  CITAC is an organization of American manufacturers and retailers of a wide variety of consumer and intermediate goods, from auto parts to household items, who seek to ensure that trade actions designed to protect one domestic industry do not unduly harm other domestic industries.  CITAC is therefore directly interested in efforts to relieve U.S. industry and consumers from the harmful effects of trade remedy laws.

CITAC strongly supports the Department’s proposal because it furthers the prompt and economical provision of emergency relief supplies by federal, state, local and private authorities.  While modest in scope, the proposal recognizes that the Department should consider the adverse effects of antidumping and countervailing duties on relief efforts.  CITAC supports the Department’s conclusion that antidumping and countervailing duties should not apply when harm from such duties outweighs the benefits in providing emergency supplies. 

The statute cited by the Department (19 U.S.C. § 1318(a)) authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to permit the importation of emergency relief supplies “free of duty.”  As the Department’s notice indicates, antidumping and countervailing duty authority was transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Commerce in 1979, pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 3.  That Reorganization Plan clearly provides the Department with the authority to waive antidumping and countervailing duties, as these are “duties” within the meaning of Section 1318(a).  Thus, a temporary suspension of antidumping and countervailing duties during an emergency would be an appropriate exercise of the Department’s authority and would not undermine the effectiveness of the U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty law.

We urge reconsideration of proposed section 358.103(d).  The suspension of duties in emergency situations should not be burdened with unreasonable requirements for reporting and recordkeeping.  Thus, the Department should not require imports for emergency relief work to be reported in connection with antidumping or countervailing duty administrative reviews, as proposed in proposed § 358.103(d).  Since the merchandise will be unconditionally free from antidumping and countervailing duties based on the regulation, and the merchandise will be excluded from antidumping or countervailing duty calculations for either assessment or cash deposit rates, no purpose is served by putting these imports in the Department’s data base for administrative reviews.  Donors of emergency supplies might be deterred from providing relief materials if, by doing so, they would be subjected to reporting those transactions in an administrative review.  The Department’s proposed regulations already provide adequate protection to ensure that any merchandise brought in pursuant to this provision is, in fact, used for emergency relief work, since it may be subject to seizure or other penalty, including under section 592 of the Act  (proposed  § 358.103(c)). Thus, the reporting requirements are unnecessary and unduly burdensome.

CITAC commends the Department for this proposal: it commendably balances the needs of consumers of emergency relief supplies and the enforcement of trade remedy laws.  It is, in our view, a valuable first step in this necessary balancing.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Lewis E. Leibowitz
Lynn G. Kamarck

Counsel for CITAC

 

 

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