Chinese producers who add boron to avoid US antidumping duties will now be subject to the existing antidumping order for cut to length (CTL) plate imported from China.

The Department of Commerce has issued an affirmative preliminary circumvention ruling determining that Chinese imports of CTL carbon steel plate that include economically and metallurgically insignificant amounts of boron are subject to the antidumping duty order on CTL plate.

Last year, Nucor Corporation and other domestic plate producers presented the Department of Commerce with compelling evidence that Chinese CTL plate with small amounts of boron added is being produced, marketed and sold to US customers as a means to avoid paying antidumping duties.

After completing its preliminary investigation, the Department of Commerce found that the boron-added CTL plate has virtually the same physical characteristics, uses and production process as CTL plate without boron. Therefore, Chinese CTL plate imports including minor amounts of boron will now be held subject to the antidumping duty order. Notably, the Department of Commerce's decision applies to all boron-added Chinese CTL plate imports - regardless of producer, exporter or importer.

As a result of the ruling, The Department of Commerce has ordered Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of any Chinese boron-added plate imported since April 2010, when the investigation began. CBP will also require cash deposits of estimated duties on all Chinese boron-added plate. The current China-wide antidumping duty rate on plate is 128.59%. Commerce has also asked all interested parties to submit briefs on the subject within 20 days, before proceeding to a final determination.

US law authorises The Department of Commerce to include products altered in minor respects within the scope of an antidumping duty order to prevent circumvention of that order. With respect to the antidumping duty order on Chinese CTL plate, the addition of only 0.0008% boron to the CTL plate converts carbon steel into an ‘alloy’ steel under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and so Chinese producers and importers have used this provision to trade and evade the antidumping order for many years. However, as the Commerce Department has now confirmed, the boron-added CTL plate, without special processing and heat treatment, has the same physical characteristics and uses as the subject CTL plate.