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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 3, 2004

Memorandum for the United States Trade Representative

SUBJECT: Presidential Determination on Imports of Certain Ductile Iron Waterworks Fittings from the People's Republic of China

Consistent with section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2451), I have determined the action I will take with respect to the affirmative determination of the United States International Trade Commission (USITC Investigation TA-421-4) regarding imports of certain ductile iron waterworks fittings (pipe fittings) from China. After considering all relevant aspects of the investigation, I have determined that providing import relief for the U.S. pipe fittings industry is not in the national economic interest of the United States. In particular, I find that the import relief would have an adverse impact on the United States economy clearly greater than the benefits of such action.

The facts of this case indicate that imposing the USITC's recommended tariff-rate quota remedy or any other import relief available under section 421 would be ineffective because imports from third countries would likely replace curtailed Chinese imports. The switch to third country imports could occur quickly because the major U.S. importers already import substantial quantities from countries such as India, Brazil, Korea, and Mexico. Because importers' existing inventories of imports will likely cover demand for approximately 6 to 12 months from the imposition of import relief, a switch from China to alternative import sources would not likely lead to significant additional demand for domestically produced pipe fittings, even accounting for a time lag in making that switch. Under these circumstances, import relief would provide no meaningful benefit to domestic producers.

In addition, import relief would cost U.S. consumers substantially more than the increased income that could be realized by domestic producers. Indeed, the USITC estimated that its recommended remedy would generate a negative net domestic welfare effect of between $2.3 million and $3.7 million in the first year alone.

While not necessary in reaching my determination that imposing import relief would have an adverse impact on the United States economy clearly greater than the benefits, it is also worth noting two additional points:

$ First, evidence suggests that domestic producers enjoy a strong competitive position in the U.S. market, and in fact the largest domestic producer recently announced price increases nationwide ranging from 8 to 35 percent. The two smaller domestic producers and the major U.S. importers have publicly indicated that they would follow these price increases.

$ Second, in 2002 and 2003, imports of this product have been relatively stable in volume terms and have shown a slight decline in value terms.

The circumstances of this case make clear that the U.S. national economic interest would not be served by the imposition of import relief under section 421. I remain fully committed to exercising the important authority granted to me under section 421 when the circumstances of a particular case warrant it.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


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