US-bound Vietnamese plastic bags hit with double whammy

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The US Department of Commerce has announced anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Vietnamese polyethylene bags.

This is the first time that a product exported from Vietnam has been subject to two punitive taxes at the same time.

The department said Vietnamese polyethylene bag exporters sold their products at 52.30-76.11 per cent below normal value in the US. It also said that the producers received government subsidies of 1-52.56 percent.

Under the decision, 16 plastic bag makers and exporters must pay an anti-dumping tax of 52.30 percent while others are subject to a tariff of 76.11 percent.

For countervailing duties, three firms, Chin Sheng Co Ltd, Fotai Viet Nam Enterprise Corporation, and Advance Polybag Co Ltd receive a rate of 0.44 percent, 5.28 percent, and 52.56 percent respectively.

Other producers and exporters must pay 5.28 percent.

The government website quoted Ngo Van Thoan, Vietnamese trade counselor in the US, as saying the ruling was unfair.

He said that the Vietnamese exporters had given the department adequate data showing that Vietnam's support for its businesses was in accordance with the rules of the World Trade Organization.

The US department said it would instruct US Customs and Border Protection to collect a cash deposit or bond on the imports of plastic bags based on the final anti-dumping rates.

Cash deposits for countervailing duties will not be required until the US International Trade Commission (ITC) makes a decision on May 10 as to whether PE bags from Vietnam cause or threaten to cause remarkable damage to the US industry.

If the commission says yes, the Department of Commerce will issue anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders. If the ITC makes negative injury determinations, the department's investigations will be terminated.

The investigation started on March 31 last year when a petition was filed by US-based companies Hilex Poly Company and Superbag Corporation. The suits complained about plastic shopping bags imported from Vietnam, Indonesia and Taiwan.

Imports of plastic bags from Vietnam were valued at an estimated US$43 million in 2009, down from $79.4 million in 2008, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

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