CIT Requires Commerce to Define "Finished Merchandise"
in Aluminum Extrusion Orders


October 23, 2014

On September 23, 2014, the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) issued an order in the decision of Rubbermaid Commercial Products LLC v. United States, Slip Op. 14-113, remanding the case to Commerce to articulate a clear definition of the term “finished merchandise” in the scope description in the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders on aluminum extrusions from China. 

This case arose from a 2011 scope ruling on lock frames and handles imported by Rubbermaid that allowed the consumer to attach interchangeable damp or dry mops and cleaning clothes. The scope decision was adverse, and consequently, Rubbermaid filed an action in the CIT to contest Commerce’s finding.

The two orders at issue include exemptions for “finished goods” and “finished merchandise.” In reviewing these, the CIT noted that there was “seductive logic and symmetry” in the rationale that the two exemptions run parallel. However, given the lack of clarity between the two, the CIT ordered Commerce to set out a “clear and cogent” definition of the finished merchandise exclusion. In particular, CIT said that Commerce needs to address whether the finished merchandise exclusion covers products that are designed to work in conjunction with other merchandise. The clear implication of this CIT decision is that the requirements for qualifying a product under “finished goods kits” and “finished merchandise” are not the same. 

Commerce’s remand results are due to be filed by December 19, 2014. Comments may be filed thereafter. If the CIT finds that Commerce’s definition does not conform to the holding of the CIT case, the matter may be remanded back to Commerce for further proceedings.

Needless to say, this will have a significant impact for importers who are claiming that their products are finished merchandise and thus excluded from these orders.

If you have any questions about this or other customs matters, please contact Steve Spraitzar at steve.spraitzar@tuttlelaw.com or at (415) 986-8780.

Steve Spraitzar is an attorney with the Law Offices of George R. Tuttle in San Francisco.

The information in this article is general in nature, and is not intended to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship with respect to any event or occurrence, and may not be considered as such.

 

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