On July 6, 2016, ALJ Dee Lord issued Order No. 19 suspending the investigation pursuant to Section 337(b)(3) and Commission Rule 210.23 in Certain Carbon and Alloy Steel Products (Inv. No. 337-TA-1002).
By way of background, this investigation is based on a complaint filed by U.S. Steel Corp. alleging violation of Section 337 by a number of Chinese steel companies that are conspiring to fix prices, control output and export volumes in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, misappropriating U.S. Steel trade secrets, and falsely designating the origin or manufacturer of steel products being imported or sold for importation into the U.S. See our April 26, 2016 and June 7, 2016 posts for more details on the complaint and notice of investigation.
According to the Order, the complaint identified four ongoing investigations at the Department of Commerce related to the steel products at issue in this investigation, “and the Commerce Department recently issued final determinations in these investigations finding countervailing duties and sales at less than fair value.” In their responses to the complaint and Notice of Investigation, the Respondents asserted that U.S. Steel’s claims of price fixing and false designation of origin are outside the scope of Section 337 pursuant to subsection (b)(3) which prohibits the Commission from instituting or continuing a Section 337 investigation based on “acts and effects” which are within the purview of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws.
ALJ Lord noted that “U.S. Steel’s antitrust claims explicitly rely on determinations by the Commission and the Commerce Department that the Chinese government subsidizes the Chinese steel industry, and that Chinese steel manufacturers sell their products at less than fair value.” The ALJ also observed that “U.S. Steel’s false designation of origin claims are based explicitly upon Respondents’ alleged evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty orders issued by the Commerce Department.” Thus, ALJ Lord found that “the present matter comes at least ‘in part’ within the purview of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws, and Section 337(b)(3) therefore requires that the Commission notify the Secretary of Commerce.” Accordingly, the ALJ suspended the investigation under pursuant to Section 337(b)(3) and Commission Rule 210.23 to allow the Commission to provide the statutorily-required notice to the Secretary of Commerce.