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Notice

Notice of Initiation of Antidumping Duty Investigation: Refined Brown Aluminum Oxide (Otherwise known as Refined Brown Artificial Corundum or Brown Fused Alumina) from the People's Republic of China

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AGENCY:

Import Administration, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

ACTION:

Initiation of Antidumping Duty Investigation

EFFECTIVE DATE:

December 17, 2002.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

David J. Goldberger or Jim Mathews, Import Administration, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone (202) 482-4136 or (202) 482-2778, respectively.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Initiation Of Investigation

The Petition

On November 20, 2002, the Department received a petition filed in proper form by Washington Mills Company, Inc. On November 27, 2002, the petition was amended to include two additional petitioners, C-E Minerals and Treibacher Schleifmittel Corporation (collectively, the petitioners). The Department received information supplementing the petition throughout the initiation period.

In accordance with section 732(b)(1) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), the petitioners allege that imports of refined brown aluminum oxide from the People's Republic of China (PRC) are, 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 an industry in the United States.

The Department finds that the petitioners filed the petition on behalf of the domestic industry because they are interested parties as defined in section 771(9)(C) of the Act and they have demonstrated sufficient industry support with respect to the antidumping investigation that they are requesting the Department to initiate. See infra, “Determination of Industry Support for the Petition.”

Scope of Investigation

The merchandise covered by this investigation is ground, pulverized or refined artificial corundum, also known as brown aluminum oxide or brown fused alumina, in grit size of 3/8 inch or less. Excluded from the scope of the investigation is crude artificial corundum in which particles with a diameter greater than 3/8 inch constitute at least 50 percent of the total weight of the entire batch. The scope includes brown artificial corundum in which particles with a diameter greater than 3/8 inch constitute less than 50 percent of the total weight of the batch. The merchandise under investigation is currently classifiable under subheading 2818.10.20.00 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Although the HTSUS subheading is provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the merchandise under investigation is dispositive.

During our review of the petition, we discussed the scope with the petitioners to ensure that it accurately reflects the product for which the domestic industry is seeking relief. Moreover, as discussed in the preamble to the Department's regulations (Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties; Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997)), we are setting aside a period for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage. The Department encourages all parties to submit such comments within 20 calendar days of publication of this notice. Comments should be addressed to Import Administration's Central Records Unit, Room 1870, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20230. The period of scope consultations is intended to provide the Department with ample opportunity to consider all comments and consult with parties prior to the issuance of the preliminary determination.

Determination of Industry Support for the Petition

Section 732(b)(1) of the Act requires that a petition be filed on behalf of the domestic industry. Section 732(c)(4)(A) of the Act provides that the Department's industry support determination, which is to be made before the initiation of the investigation, be based on whether a minimum percentage of the relevant industry supports the petition. A petition meets this requirement if the domestic producers or workers who support the petition account for: (1) at least 25 percent of the total production of the domestic like product; and (2) more than 50 percent of the production of the domestic like product produced by that portion of the industry expressing support for, or opposition to, the petition. Moreover, section 732(c)(4)(D) of the Act provides that, if the petition does not establish support of domestic producers or workers accounting for more than 50 percent of the total production of the domestic like product, the Department shall either poll the industry or rely on other information in order to determine if there is support for the petition.

Section 771(4)(A) of the Act defines the “industry” as the producers of a domestic like product. Thus, to determine whether a petition has the requisite industry support, the statute directs the Department to look to producers and workers who produce the domestic like product. The International Trade Commission (ITC), which is Start Printed Page 77224responsible for determining whether “the domestic industry” has been injured, must also determine what constitutes a domestic like product in order to define the industry. While both the Department and the ITC must apply the same statutory definition regarding the domestic like product (section 771(10) of the Act), they do so for different purposes and pursuant to a separate and distinct authority. In addition, the Department's determination is subject to limitations of time and information. Although this may result in different definitions of the like product, such differences do not render the decision of either agency contrary to the law.[1]

Section 771(10) of the Act defines the domestic like product as “a product which is like, or in the absence of like, most similar in characteristics and uses with, the article subject to an investigation under this title.” Thus, the reference point from which the domestic like product analysis begins is “the article subject to an investigation,” i.e., the class or kind of merchandise to be investigated, which normally will be the scope as defined in the petition.

We reviewed the description of the domestic like product presented in the petition. At this time, we have no basis on the record to find the petition's definition of the domestic like product to be inaccurate. Therefore, we have adopted the domestic like product set forth in the petition, which is defined in the “Scope of Investigation” section above.

Finally, the Department has determined that, pursuant to section 732(c)(4)(A) of the Act, the petition contains adequate evidence of industry support and, therefore, polling is unnecessary. See the Import Administration Antidumping Investigation Initiation Checklist, Industry Support section, December 10, 2002 (Initiation Checklist), on file in the Central Records Unit, Room B-099 of the main Department of Commerce building. The Department has determined that the petitioners have demonstrated industry support representing over 50 percent of total production of the domestic like product. Therefore, the domestic producers or workers who support the petition account for at least 25 percent of the total production of the domestic like product, and the requirements of section 732(c)(4)(A)(i) of the Act are met. Furthermore, because the Department received no opposition to the petition, the domestic producers or workers who support the petition account for more than 50 percent of the production of the domestic like product produced by that portion of the industry expressing support for or opposition to the petition. Thus, the requirements of section 732(c)(4)(A)(ii) are also met. Accordingly, we determine that this petition is filed on behalf of the domestic industry within the meaning of section 732(b)(1) of the Act.

Export Price and Normal Value

The following are descriptions of the allegation of sales at less than fair value upon which the Department based its decision to initiate this investigation. The sources of data for the deductions and adjustments relating to the U.S. price and the factors of production are discussed in greater detail in the Initiation Checklist. Should the need arise to use any of this information as facts available under section 776 of the Act in our preliminary or final determination, we may re-examine the information and revise the margin calculation, if appropriate.

Regarding the information involving non-market economies (NME), the Department presumes, based on the extent of central government control in an NME, that a single dumping margin, should there be one, is appropriate for all NME exporters in the given country. In the course of the investigation, all parties will have the opportunity to provide relevant information related to the issues of a country's NME status and the granting of separate rates to individual exporters. See, e.g., Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Silicon Carbide from the People's Republic of China, 59 FR 22585 (May 2, 1994).

Export Price

The petitioners based export price (EP) on the FOB PRC price of the subject merchandise as invoiced to one of the petitioners. No adjustments were made to this FOB price.

Normal Value

The petitioners allege that the PRC is an NME country, and that in all previous investigations the Department has determined that the PRC is an NME. See, e.g., Notice of Final Determination in the Less Than Fair Value Investigation of Steel Wire Rope From the People's Republic of China, 66 FR 12759, 12761 (Feb. 28, 2001). In accordance with section 771(18)(c) of the Act, any determination that a foreign country has at one time been considered an NME shall remain in effect until revoked. Therefore, the PRC will continue to be treated as an NME unless and until its NME status is revoked. Pursuant to section 771(18)(C)(i) of the Act, because the PRC's status as a NME remains in effect, the petitioners determined the dumping margin using an NME analysis.

The petitioners assert that India is the most appropriate surrogate country for the PRC, claiming that India is: (1) a market economy; (2) a significant producer of comparable merchandise; and (3) at a level of economic development comparable to that of the PRC in terms of per-capita gross national income. Based on the information provided by the petitioners, we believe that the petitioners' use of India as a surrogate country is appropriate for purposes of initiation of this investigation.

The petitioners valued the factors of production using the quantities of inputs to produce refined brown aluminum oxide as reported by one of the petitioners because the petitioners stated that current reliable information about PRC factor quantities was not reasonably available. The factors of production and usage amounts were derived from the petitioners' average actual production experience for various sizes of refined brown aluminum oxide during the period April through September 2002.

The surrogate values for bauxite and coke were based on the 2000-2001 annual report of Carborundum Universal Limited (CUMI), an Indian producer of refined aluminum oxide. The surrogate values for borings and electrodes were based on the values reported in the Monthly Statistics of the Foreign Trade of India. Labor was valued using the regression-based wage rate for the PRC provided by Import Administration's website and in accordance with 19 CFR 351.408(c)(3). The petitioners valued electricity using the 2000 price for India quoted in Energy Prices & Taxes, Quarterly Statistics, published by the International Energy Agency of the OECD. The petitioners made an adjustment to the sum of these values to account for a small amount of ferrosilicon produced and sold as a by-product.

To determine factory overhead, SG&A, and financial expenses, the petitioners relied on ratios derived from the financial statements of CUMI. The petitioners valued the by-product, ferrosilicon, by using their own sales value. Based on the information provided by the petitioners, we believe that the surrogate values represent information reasonably available to the Start Printed Page 77225petitioners and are acceptable for purposes of initiation of this investigation.

Based upon a comparison of EP to normal value (NV), the petitioners estimate a margin of 131.38 percent.

Fair Value Comparisons

Based on the data provided by the petitioners, there is reason to believe that imports of refined brown aluminum oxide from the PRC are being, or are likely to be, sold at less than fair value.

Allegations and Evidence of Material Injury and Causation

The petitioners allege that the U.S. industry producing the domestic like product is being materially injured, or is threatened with material injury, by reason of imports of the subject merchandise sold at less than NV.

The petitioners contend that the industry's injured condition is evident in the declining trends in net operating profits, net sales volumes, production employment, and capacity utilization. The allegations of injury and causation are supported by relevant evidence including U.S. Customs import data, lost sales, and pricing information. We have assessed the allegations and supporting evidence regarding material injury and causation, and we have determined that these allegations are properly supported by adequate evidence and meet the statutory requirements for initiation. See the Initiation Checklist.

Initiation of Antidumping Investigation

Based upon our examination of the petition on refined brown aluminum oxide, we have found that it meets the requirements of section 732 of the Act. Therefore, we are initiating an antidumping duty investigation to determine whether imports of refined brown aluminum oxide from the PRC are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value. Unless this deadline is extended pursuant to section 733(b)(1)(A) of the Act, we will make our preliminary determination no later than 140 days after the date of this initiation.

Distribution of Copies of the Petition

In accordance with section 732(b)(3)(A) of the Act, a copy of the public version of the petition has been provided to the representatives of the Government of the PRC.

ITC Notification

We have notified the ITC of our initiation as required by section 732(d) of the Act.

Preliminary Determination by the ITC

The ITC will determine no later than January 6, 2003, whether there is a reasonable indication that imports of refined brown aluminum oxide from the PRC are causing material injury, or threatening to cause material injury, to a U.S. industry. A negative ITC determination will result in the investigation being terminated; otherwise, this investigation will proceed according to statutory and regulatory time limits.

This notice is issued and published pursuant to section 777(i) of the Act.

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Dated: December 10, 2002.

Faryar Shirzad,

Assistant Secretary for Import Administration.

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Footnotes

1.  See Algoma Steel Corp. Ltd., v. United States, 688 F. Supp.639, 642-44 (CIT 1988); High Information Content Flat Panel Displays and Display Glass from Japan: Final Determination; Rescission of Investigation and Partial Dismissal of Petition, 56 FR 32376, 32380-81 (July 16, 1991).

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[FR Doc. 02-31628 Filed 12-16-02; 8:45 am]

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