Rulings, remedies and court proceedings for customs and trade professionals

US Illegally Ignored Industry Interpretation of AD Order, Exporter Tells CAFC in Scope Case

The U.S. reply in a scope case on Vandewater International's steel branch outlets fails to follow either scope principle established by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's key precedential opinion in Arcelormittal Stainless Belg. v. U.S., appellant Sigma Corp. told the appellate court in a reply brief. In violation of Arcelormittal, the government interpreted the antidumping duty order on butt-weld pipe fittings from China in a vacuum devoid of any consideration of the way the order's language is used in the relevant industry and identified ambiguity where none exists, Sigma argued (Vandewater International v. United States, Fed. Cir. # 23-1093).

Start A Trial

"In reality, this case is simple" and boils down to applying Arcelormittal, the brief said. Per industry jargon, among other things, Vandewater's steel branch outlets are not butt-weld and not subject to the AD order, especially since "butt-weld" has a single, unambiguous meaning, excluding welded outlets from the scope, Sigma claimed.

In its reply, the U.S. said Sigma relies too much on industry language and said that the definition of "butt-weld" is ambiguous (see 2304240058). Sigma responded that the government "gets it wrong" and "essentially asks" the Federal Circuit "to disregard Commerce's legal obligation to recognize interpret terms in an order consistent with trade usage and industry standards." Sigma said that, contrary to the U.S.'s understanding, the appellant's argument is limited to a (k)(0) analysis and not a (k)(2) analysis, particularly as far as the invocation of trade usage language is concerned.

Sigma also claimed that the U.S. drew analogies with inapplicable cases and pointed the court's attention to "incorrect interpretations of various legal and factual elements" of the dispute. For instance, the government misapplied the standard of review by saying that de novo review involves "deference to Commerce and the CIT," Sigma said. De novo review actually means not deferring to the trade court, so the Federal Circuit "should reject the Government’s mischaracterization of the standard of review and attempt to shoehorn deference into the analysis where it is neither required nor appropriate," the brief said.