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Notice

Ceramic Tile From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination, Preliminary Negative Critical Circumstances Determination, and Alignment of Final Determination With Final Antidumping Duty Determination

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AGENCY:

Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Commerce (Commerce) preliminarily determines that countervailable subsidies are being provided to producers and exporters of ceramic tile from the People's Republic of China (China). The period of investigation is January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Interested parties are invited to comment on this preliminary determination.

DATES:

Applicable September 12, 2019.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Yasmin Bordas, Moses Song, or John McGowan, AD/CVD Operations, Office VI, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-3813, (202) 482-7885, or (202) 482-3019, respectively.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 703(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). Commerce published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 8, 2019.[1] On June 24, 2019, Commerce postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation and the revised deadline is now September 6, 2019.[2] For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.[3] A list of topics discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov, and is available to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/​frn/​. The signed and electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

Scope of the Investigation

The product covered by this investigation is ceramic tile from China. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

Scope Comments

In accordance with the preamble to Commerce's regulations,[4] the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage, (i.e., scope).[5] Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. For a summary of the product coverage comments and rebuttal responses submitted to the record for this preliminary determination and accompanying discussion and analysis of all comments timely received, see the Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum.[6] Commerce is not preliminarily modifying the scope language as it appeared in the Initiation Notice.

Methodology

Commerce is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 701 of the Act. For each of the subsidy programs found countervailable, Commerce preliminarily determines that there is a subsidy, i.e., a financial contribution by an “authority” that gives rise to a benefit to the recipient, Start Printed Page 48126and that the subsidy is specific.[7] In making these findings, we relied, in part, on facts available and, because one or more respondents did not act to the best of their ability to respond to Commerce's requests for information, we drew an adverse inference where appropriate in selecting from among the facts otherwise available.[8] For further information, see “Use of Facts Otherwise Available and Adverse Inferences” in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

Preliminary Negative Determination of Critical Circumstances

In accordance with section 703(e)(1) of the Act, Commerce preliminarily determines that information provided in the critical circumstances allegation does not demonstrate the existence of critical circumstances with respect to imports of ceramic tile from China. For a full description of the methodology and results of Commerce's analysis, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

Alignment

As noted in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, in accordance with section 705(a)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(4), Commerce is aligning the final countervailing duty (CVD) determination in this investigation with the final determination in the companion antidumping duty (AD) investigation of ceramic tile from China based on a request made by the Coalition for Fair Trade in Ceramic Tile (the petitioner).[9] Consequently, the final CVD determination will be issued on the same date as the final AD determination, which is currently scheduled to be issued no later than January 21, 2020, unless postponed.

All-Others Rate

Sections 703(d) and 705(c)(5)(A) of the Act provide that in the preliminary determination, Commerce shall determine an estimated all-others rate for companies not individually examined. This rate shall be an amount equal to the weighted-average of the estimated subsidy rates established for those companies individually examined, excluding any zero and de minimis rates and any rates based entirely under section 776 of the Act. In this investigation, Commerce preliminarily assigned a rate based entirely on facts available to Temgoo International Trading Limited. Therefore, the only rate that is not zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts otherwise available is the rate calculated for Foshan Sanfi Imp & Exp Co., Ltd. (Sanfi). Consequently, the rate calculated for Sanfi is also assigned as the rate for all other producers and exporters.

Preliminary Determination

Commerce preliminarily determines that the following estimated countervailable subsidy rates exist:

CompanySubsidy rate (percent)
Temgoo International Trading Limited222.24
Foshan Sanfi Imp & Exp Co., Ltd.10103.77
All Others103.77

Suspension of Liquidation

In accordance with section 703(d)(1)(B) and (d)(2) of the Act, Commerce will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise as described in the scope of the investigation section entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Further, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.205(d), Commerce will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the rates indicated above.

Disclosure

Commerce intends to disclose its calculations and analysis performed to interested parties in this preliminary determination within five days of its public announcement, or if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

Verification

As provided in section 782(i)(1) of the Act, Commerce intends to verify the information relied upon in making its final determination.

Public Comment

Case briefs or other written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.[11] Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities.

Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, Commerce intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

International Trade Commission (ITC) Notification

In accordance with section 703(f) of the Act, Commerce will notify the ITC of its determination. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination, whether imports of the subject merchandise are materially injuring, or threaten material injury to, the U.S. industry.

Notification to Interested Parties

This determination is issued and published pursuant to sections 703(f) and 777(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

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Dated: September 6, 2019.

Jeffrey I. Kessler,

Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance.

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Appendix I—Scope of the Investigation

The merchandise covered by this investigation is ceramic flooring tile, wall tile, paving tile, hearth tile, porcelain tile, mosaic tile, flags, finishing tile, and the like Start Printed Page 48127(hereinafter ceramic tile). Ceramic tiles are articles containing a mixture of minerals including clay (generally hydrous silicates of alumina or magnesium) that are fired so the raw materials are fused to produce a finished good that is less than 3.2 cm in actual thickness. All ceramic tile is subject to the scope regardless of end use, surface area, and weight, regardless of whether the tile is glazed or unglazed, regardless of the water absorption coefficient by weight, regardless of the extent of vitrification, and regardless of whether or not the tile is on a backing. Subject merchandise includes ceramic tile with decorative features that may in spots exceed 3.2 cm in thickness and includes ceramic tile “slabs” or “panels” (tiles that are larger than 1 meter2 (11 ft.2)).

Subject merchandise includes ceramic tile that undergoes minor processing in a third country prior to importation into the United States. Similarly, subject merchandise includes ceramic tile produced that undergoes minor processing after importation into the United States. Such minor processing includes, but is not limited to, one or more of the following: Beveling, cutting, trimming, staining, painting, polishing, finishing, additional firing, or any other processing that would otherwise not remove the merchandise from the scope of the investigation if performed in the country of manufacture of the in-scope product.

Subject merchandise is currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under the following subheadings of heading 6907: 6907.21.1005, 6907.21.1011, 6907.21.1051, 6907.21.2000, 6907.21.3000, 6907.21.4000, 6907.21.9011, 6907.21.9051, 6907.22.1005, 6907.22.1011, 6907.22.1051, 6907.22.2000, 6907.22.3000, 6907.22.4000, 6907.22.9011, 6907.22.9051, 6907.23.1005, 6907.23.1011, 6907.23.1051, 6907.23.2000, 6907.23.3000, 6907.23.4000, 6907.23.9011, 6907.23.9051, 6907.30.1005, 6907.30.1011, 6907.30.1051, 6907.30.2000, 6907.30.3000, 6907.30.4000, 6907.30.9011, 6907.30.9051, 6907.40.1005, 6907.40.1011, 6907.40.1051, 6907.40.2000, 6907.40.3000, 6907.40.4000, 6907.40.9011, and 6907.40.9051. Subject merchandise may also enter under subheadings of headings 6914 and 6905: 6914.10.8000, 6914.90.8000, 6905.10.0000, and 6905.90.0050. The HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes only. The written description of the scope of this investigation is dispositive.

Appendix II—List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum

I. Summary

II. Background

III. Scope Comments

IV. Scope of the Investigation

V. Injury Test

VI. Preliminary Negative Determination of Critical Circumstances

VII. Application of the CVD Law to Imports from China

VIII. Subsidies Valuation

IX. Benchmarks and Interest Rates

X. Diversification of China's Economy

XI. Use of Facts Otherwise Available and Adverse Inferences

XII. Analysis of Programs

XIII. Calculation of the All-Others Rate

XIV. ITC Notification

XV. Disclosure and Public Comment

XVI. Verification

XVII. Recommendation

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Footnotes

1.  See Ceramic Tile from the People's Republic of China: Initiation of Countervailing Duty Investigations, 84 FR 20101 (May 8, 2019) (Initiation Notice).

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2.  See Ceramic Tile from the People's Republic of China: Postponement of Preliminary Determination in the Countervailing Duty Investigation, 84 FR 29497 (June 24, 2019).

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3.  See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Affirmative Determination: Countervailing Duty Investigation of Ceramic Tile from the People's Republic of China,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

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4.  See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

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5.  See Initiation Notice.

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6.  See Memorandum, “Ceramic Tile from the People's Republic of China: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determinations,” dated September 6, 2019.

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7.  See sections 771(5)(B) and (D) of the Act regarding financial contribution; section 771(5)(E) of the Act regarding benefit; and section 771(5A) of the Act regarding specificity.

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8.  See sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act.

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9.  See Petitioner's Letter, “Countervailing Duty Investigation of Ceramic Tile from the People's Republic of China: Request to Align Countervailing Duty Final Determination with Companion Antidumping Final Determination,” dated August 15, 2019.

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10.  As discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, Commerce has found Guangdong Sanfi Ceramics Group Co., Ltd. to be cross-owned with Sanfi.

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11.  See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

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[FR Doc. 2019-19794 Filed 9-11-19; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P