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Travels in Canada: A Structural Decision from Washington

For those reading the tea leaves of US trade policy, an announcement earlier this week from the US International Trade Commission was an important development. On February 25, in a final decision, the ITC struck down attempts launched in early 2019 to impose special duties on imports of fabricated structural steel from Canada, China, and Mexico.

Full disclaimer: Arent Fox LLP is proud of having played a lead role as counsel to the Canadian companies targeted by the trade action. More details can be found here.

What is fabricated structural steel? Think high rise buildings, stadiums, oil refineries, drilling rigs, sections cell phone towers, and power transmission.

What was the complaint? US domestic petitioners argued that these imports materially injured the US economy and the competitiveness of the industry. Had the decision turned the other way, these imports would have been subject to hefty new duties at the time of import and, likely, for a very long period of time.

As a result of this final decision from ITC, Customs and Border Protection will refund all cash deposits to the importing Parties and terminate the “suspension of liquidation” of the affected entries over the period of the last twelve months.

Why was this particular case noteworthy? This unique trade investigation involved a highly complex product line used in various construction projects, each requiring different product standards and design. In other words, this investigation was an extremely complicated case unlike more “traditional” US trade investigations (think avocadoes from Mexico).

Matt Nolan and Nancy Noonan led the team from Arent Fox in this important win. Matt is hardly a new face in Canada. For many years, Matt has been successful in several high-profile trade investigations launched against Canadian business interests and in 2006 was asked to serve on the board of the Canadian American Business Council. And Nancy has worked on lumber, paper, and many other cases involving producers in Canada.

While this decision from the ITC will be seen as a landmark decision by tea leaf readers for years to come, the rate of these investigations launched against imports into the US is unlikely to subside. To the contrary. Especially during these volatile times.

Want to talk with Nancy or Matt? Their contact information and full bios can be found in the links below.


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