On April 10, 2019, the Coalition for Fair Trade in Ceramic Tile (Coalition) filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the U.S. International Trade Commission (Commission) seeking antidumping (ADD) and countervailing (CVD) duties on imports of ceramic tile products from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Coalition consists of U.S. ceramic tile producers American Wonder Porcelain, Florida Tile, Inc., Crossville, Inc., Florim USA, Dal-Tile Corporation, Landmark Ceramics, Del Conca USA, Inc. and StonePeak Ceramics (all members of the Tile Council of North America). According to the Coalition, “a surge of imports of ceramic tile from the PRC has entered the United States at aggressively low and unfair prices” and has benefited from PRC government subsidies.

Ceramic tile products are articles containing a mixture of minerals including clay (generally hydrous silicates of alumina or magnesium) that are treated to develop a fired bond. The products the Coalition seeks to include in the scope of the investigations include ceramic flooring and wall tile, countertop tile, paving tile, hearth tile, porcelain tile, mosaic cubes, finishing tile and the like, whether it is glazed or unglazed, is or is not on a backing, regardless of the water absorption coefficient by weight, regardless of the extent of vitrification, and regardless of end use, size, thickness and weight. The Coalition states that ceramic tile products enter the United States under Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheadings 6907.21.10.05, 6907.21.10.11, 6907.21.10.51, 6907.21.20.00, 6907.21.30.00, 6907.21.40.00, 6907.21.90.11, 6907.21.90.51, 6907.22.10.05, 6907.22.10.11, 6907.22.10.51, 6907.22.20.00, 6907.22.30.00, 6907.22.40.00, 6907.22.90.11, 6907.22.90.51, 6907.23.10.05, 6907.23.10.11, 6907.23.10.51, 6907.23.20.00, 6907.23.30.00, 6907.23.40.00, 6907.23.90.11, 6907.23.90.51, 6907.30.10.05, 6907.30.10.11, 6907.30.10.51, 6907.30.20.00, 6907.30.30.00, 6907.30.40.00, 6907.30.90.11, 6907.30.90.51, 6907.40.10.05, 6907.40.10.11, 6907.40.10.51, 6907.40.20.00, 6907.40.30.00, 6907.40.40.00, 6907.40.90.11, 6907.40.90.51. The product may also enter the United States under HTSUS subheadings 6914.10.80.00, 6914.90.80.00, 6905.10.00.00 and 6905.90.00.50. The scope excludes ceramic bricks properly classified under HTSUS 6904.10.00.10 through 6904.90.00.00.

Products covered would also include ceramic tile produced in the PRC that undergoes minor processing in a third country before importation into the United States, as well as ceramic tile produced in the PRC that undergoes minor processing after importation into the United States. Such minor processing includes, but is not limited to, one or more of the following: beveling, cutting, trimming, staining, painting, polishing, finishing, or any other processing that would otherwise not remove the ceramic tile from the proposed scope of the investigation if performed in the PRC of the in-scope product.

According to the Coalition, ceramic tile imports from the PRC during the 2016-2018 period increased 18.6 percent while keeping a flat average unit value during that period. In providing historical context for the growth in imports from the PRC, the Coalition states that imports of ceramic tile from the PRC were less than 300 million square feet in 2009 but had risen to nearly 700 million square feet by 2018. As a result, the Coalition claims that subsidized and unfairly priced ceramic tile imports from the PRC are having significant, negative price effects causing lost sales and lost revenue to the domestic industry. The Coalition argues that the imports threaten even more harm in the absence of any relief due to the massive production capacity of PRC producers and the many export-oriented subsidy programs offered by the PRC government.

The petition lists a large number of foreign producers and exporters that shipped ceramic tile products to the United States at allegedly dumped and subsidized prices from the PRC, as well as U.S. importers of those products.

Commerce will determine by April 30, 2019, whether to formally initiate the investigations and, if Commerce does, the Commission will decide within 25 days after that whether there is a reasonable indication of existing material injury or threat of material injury to the ceramic tile domestic products industry that will require continuation of the investigations.

Thompson Hine is monitoring this matter closely. For additional information or to obtain a copy of the petitions, please contact us.