The Trump administration on April 3, 2017 issued a notice of initiation and request for public comment and information pertaining to whether the People’s Republic of China (PRC) should continue to be treated as a nonmarket economy (NME) country under the antidumping and countervailing duty laws. The notice in the Federal Register indicates that this inquiry is part of the Department of Commerce’s less-than-fair-value investigation of certain aluminum foil from the PRC.

The notice states that the Department of Commerce has treated the PRC as an NME country in all past antidumping duty investigations and administrative reviews. Yet, under the agreement with the PRC regarding its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the PRC believes that WTO members were required to begin treating it as a market economy in December 2016. The department is conducting this inquiry in order to obtain the most recent data and information available from U.S. industry, and the notice states that U.S. law allows it to review the PRC’s nonmarket economy status “at any time.”

The timing of this notice is interesting, given that Chinese President Xi Jinping is traveling to the United States for talks later this week.