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Notice

Separate Rates Practice in Antidumping Proceedings Involving Non-Market Economy Countries

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Import Administration, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

ACTION:

Request for comments.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Commerce has a long-standing policy in antidumping proceedings of presuming that all firms within a non-market economy country (“NME”) are subject to government control and thus should all be assigned a single, country-wide rate unless a respondent can demonstrate an absence of both de jure and de facto control over its export activities. In that case, the Department assigns the respondent its own individually calculated rate or, in the case of a non-investigated or non-reviewed firm, a weighted-average of the rates of the fully analyzed companies, excluding any rates that were zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts available. The Department is considering options to change certain aspects of its current separate rates policy and practice. This notice describes various options for such changes, in order to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on whether those changes would be consistent with the statute and would appropriately redress problems that have been identified concerning separate rates. The Department intends to consider additional modifications to its NME practice and may solicit additional public comment on other potential changes, as appropriate.

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DATES:

Comments must be submitted by June 1, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments (original and six copies) should be sent to James J. Jochum, Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Central Records Unit, Room 1870, Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street NW., Washington, DC 20230.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Lawrence Norton, Policy Analyst, or Anthony Hill, Senior International Economist, Office of Policy, Import Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington DC, 20230, (202) 482-1579 or (202) 482-1843.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

In an NME antidumping proceeding, the Department presumes that all companies within the country are subject to governmental control and should be assigned a single antidumping duty rate unless an exporter demonstrates the absence of both de jure and de facto governmental control over its export activities. See Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Bicycles from the People's Republic of China, 61 FR 19026, 19027 (April 30, 1996). The Department's separate rates test is not concerned, in general, with macroeconomic border-type controls (e.g., export licenses, quotas, and minimum export prices), particularly if these controls are imposed to prevent the dumping of merchandise in the United States. Rather, the test focuses on controls over the decision-making process on export-related investment, pricing, and output decisions at the individual firm level. See Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Certain Cut-to-Length Carbon Steel Plate from Ukraine, 62 FR 61754, 61757 (November 19, 1997); Tapered Roller Bearings and Parts Thereof, Finished and Unfinished, from the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, 62 FR 61276, 61279 (November 17, 1997); and Preliminary Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Honey from the People's Republic of China, 60 FR 14725, 14727 (March 20, 1995).

To establish whether a firm is sufficiently independent from government control in its export activities to be entitled to a separate rate, the Department analyzes each exporting entity under a test arising from the Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Sparklers from the People's Republic of China, 56 FR 20588 (May 6, 1991), as modified in the Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Silicon Carbide from the People's Republic of China, 59 FR 22585, 22587 (May 2, 1994) (Silicon Carbide). Under this test, the Department assigns separate rates in NME cases only if an exporter can demonstrate the absence of both de jure and de facto governmental control over its export activities. See Silicon Carbide and Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Furfuryl Alcohol from the People's Republic of China, 60 FR 22544, 22545 (May 8, 1995). In order to request and qualify for a separate rate, a company must have exported the subject merchandise to the United States during the period of investigation or review, and provide information responsive to the following considerations:

1. Absence of De Jure Control: The Department considers the following de jure criteria in determining whether an individual company may be granted a separate rate: (1) An absence of restrictive stipulations associated with an individual exporter's business and export licenses; (2) any legislative enactments decentralizing control of companies; and (3) any other formal measures by the government decentralizing control of companies.

2. Absence of De Facto Control: Typically, the Department considers four factors in evaluating whether each respondent is subject to de facto governmental control of its export functions: (1) Whether the export prices are set by, or subject to, the approval of a governmental authority; (2) whether the respondent has authority to negotiate and sign contracts and other agreements; (3) whether the respondent has autonomy from the government in making decisions regarding the selection of its management; and (4) whether the respondent retains the proceeds of its export sales and makes independent decisions regarding disposition of profits or financing of losses.

In an antidumping investigation or review, we assign a weighted-average of the individually calculated rates, excluding any rates that were zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts available, to exporters fulfilling two requirements. Firstly, they must submit a request for separate rates treatment, along with a timely response to section A of the Department's questionnaire, but not have been selected as mandatory respondents. Secondly, the Department must determine, after reviewing the requesting companies' submissions, that separate rates treatment is warranted. See Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Certain Circular Welded Carbon-Quality Steel Pipe from the People's Republic of China, 67 FR 36570, 36571 (May 24, 2002).

The Department is considering changes to the practice detailed above, in particular with respect to the treatment of exporters submitting only section A responses and requesting separate rate treatment, but that are not individually investigated or reviewed (hereafter referred to as “Section A respondents”). The Department has received increasing numbers of requests for separate rates from section A respondents in recent years and is facing an exceptionally large number of such requests in two ongoing investigations. See Initiation of Certain Frozen and Canned Warmwater Shrimp from Brazil, Ecuador, India, Thailand, the People's Republic of China, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam 69 FR 3876 (January 27, 2004) and Initiation of Wooden Bedroom Furniture from the People's Republic of China 68 FR 70228 (December 17, 2003). These developments have led parties to raise two concerns. The first is that the Department lacks the resources to evaluate the typically large number of section A respondents which request a separate rate. The second concern parties now have raised is that, independent of the number of separate rate requests the Department receives in any given case, current implementation of the separate rates test may not offer the most effective means of determining whether exporters act, de facto, independently of the government in their export activities.

In order to address these concerns, the Department is considering changes to its practice in these areas. Therefore, we are providing an opportunity for the public to participate through comments which should be submitted by the date specified above. The Department is particularly interested in comments relating to the possible approaches set forth in the Appendix to this notice, including comments on their consistency with the statute.

Comments

Persons wishing to comment should file a signed original and six copies of each set of comments by the date specified above. The Department will consider all comments received before the close of the comment period. Comments received after the end of the comment period will be considered, if possible, but their consideration cannot be assured. The Department will not accept comments accompanied by a request that a part or all of the material be treated confidentially because of its Start Printed Page 24121business proprietary nature or for any other reason. The Department will return such comments and materials to the persons submitting the comments and will not consider them in development of any changes to its practice. All comments responding to this notice will be a matter of public record and will be available for public inspection and copying at Import Administration's Central Records Unit, Room B-099, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on business days. The Department requires that comments be submitted in written form. The Department recommends submission of comments in electronic form to accompany the required paper copies. Comments filed in electronic form should be submitted either by e-mail to the webmaster below, or on CD-ROM, as comments submitted on diskettes are likely to be damaged by postal radiation treatment.

Comments received in electronic form will be made available to the public in Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the Import Administration Web site at the following address: http://ia.ita.doc.gov/​.

Any questions concerning file formatting, document conversion, access on the Internet, or other electronic filing issues should be addressed to Andrew Lee Beller, Import Administration Webmaster, at (202) 482-0866, e-mail address: webmaster-support@ita.doc.gov.

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Dated: April 27, 2004.

James J. Jochum,

Assistant Secretary for Import Administration.

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Appendix

(1) Is Section A of the NME questionnaire sufficiently detailed to allow the Department to make complete, accurate, and informed determinations regarding exporters' eligibility for separate rates? If not, what would you recommend that the Department change with respect to its section A questionnaire? For example, should the Department request further information pertaining to de jure control, or lack of control, by the NME entity?

(2) What new procedures or approaches should be followed at verification to ensure a rigorous examination of whether a respondent qualifies for a separate rate?

(3) Due to the number of possible section A respondents in many cases and the Department's resource constraints, should the Department establish a process whereby exporters seeking a separate rate must prepare a request and satisfy established requirements before the Department seeks additional information through the questionnaire process? What requirements would you recommend the Department establish?

(4) Should the Department institute an earlier deadline for parties filing section A submissions who are requesting only a separate rate (as opposed to a full review), in relation to the deadline for mandatory respondents? When should this deadline be?

(5) In light of the Department's limited resources, should the number of section A respondents be limited and, if so, upon what basis should the Department limit its examination? For example, should the Department limit the examination to a specific number of parties, base this decision upon a percentage of the number of overall respondents requesting separate rates treatment, or develop an entirely different test to limit its examination?

(6) Under current practice, the Department maintains three rate categories: country-wide, individually calculated, and the average of the non-zero, non-de minimis, non-adverse rates. Does the Department have the authority to eliminate entirely the rate category that is based on the average of the calculated non-zero, non-adverse, and non-de minimis margins? This rate category is currently applicable to section A respondents, as well as to non-investigated respondents providing full questionnaire responses. If the Department has authority, should it eliminate this category and upon what basis?

(7) Should the Department develop an additional rate category beyond country-wide, individually calculated, and the average of the non-zero, non-de minimis, non-adverse rates? This additional rate category could be assigned to cooperative firms denied a separate rate under options (5) or (6) above, as an alternative to assigning them the country-wide rate. How should the duty rate for this fourth rate category be calculated?

(8) Once a separate rate has been awarded, should the Department apply it only to merchandise from producers that supplied the exporter when the rate was granted? In that case, should merchandise from all other suppliers shipped through an exporter with a separate rate receive the country-wide rate, the average of the non-zero, non-de minimis, non-adverse reviewed respondents' margins, or another duty rate altogether?

(9) Should the Department extend its separate-rates analysis to exporter-producer combinations, i.e., should the Department consider any government control exercised on an exporter through a producer?

(10) Please provide any additional views on any other matter pertaining to the Department's practice pertaining to separate rates.

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[FR Doc. 04-9999 Filed 4-30-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P