Trade Courts Update for Week of December 30, 2015

United States Court of International Trade


Court Remanded Redetermination Results  

In Trade Associates Group, Ltd. v. United States and National Candle Association, Court No. 11-397, Slip Op. 15-145, plaintiff Trade Associates Group, Ltd. (“Trade Associates”), a U.S. importer of candles, contested a 2011 “Final Scope Ruling” of the International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce” or the “Department”), which interpreted the scope of an antidumping duty order (the “Order”) on certain petroleum wax candles from the People’s Republic of China (“China” or the “PRC”). Final Scope Ruling: Antidumping Duty Order on Petroleum Wax Candles from the People’s Republic of China (Aug. 5, 2011), (Admin.R.Doc. No. 56) (“Final Scope Ruling”). In the Final Scope Ruling, Commerce rejected the position taken by Trade Associates in a 2009 request (“Scope Ruling Request”) that Commerce should determine various specialty-shaped or holiday-themed candles to be outside the scope of the Order.

Commerce had varying methods of interpreting the Scope of the Order since its inception in 1986.  Initially, Commerce interpreted the Scope according to the shapes listed in the second sentence of the order, and found that candles in the shapes of “tapers, spirals, and straight-sided dinner candles; rounds, columns, pillars, votives; and various wax-filled containers” were within Scope. Then in 2001, Commerce shifted its interpretation to include all candles no matter what the shape.  In 2010, Commerce reverted to its initial interpretation only including those listed under the Scope of the Order.  The Final Results, however, go back to including within scope all shapes of candles. The court remanded the Final Results and now reviewed the Remand Redetermination which Commerce found under protest.  According to the Court, the Remand Redetermination adopted “an unreasonable, and therefore impermissible,” interpretation of the scope language.  The Court stated at Slip-Op pg. 17, “By placing the outer boundary of the scope according to a concept that Commerce describes using the term “common candle shapes and types,” Commerce impermissibly attempts to use its redetermination upon remand to establish a new definition of the scope of the Order. This new definition lacks any foundation in the scope language that Commerce is charged to interpret.” 

The court then clarified its remand order again to ensure that Commerce would take to heart its Court Order, and stated, “To avoid any confusion that its previous opinion may have caused, the court now clarifies that, upon remand, Commerce is directed to: (1) submit a new decision upon a second remand that is based on a reasonable interpretation of the scope language of the Order; and (2) consistent with a reasonable interpretation of the scope language, identify the individual candles in the Scope Ruling Request that Commerce considers to be within the scope of the Order and those that it considers to be outside the scope of the Order.”  For all these reasons, the Court remanded the Redetermination.