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Commerce Finalizes Minor Regulatory Changes to USMCA AD/CVD Dispute Regs

The Commerce Department on Jan. 31 finalized an interim rule on the dispute settlement mechanism for reviewing antidumping and countervailing duty decisions from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The rule references the provision under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement as opposed to the relevant article under the North American Free Trade Agreement -- the predecessor to the USMCA.

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Commerce said the rule adopts "non-substantive amendments" to the dispute settlement mechanism since it is "substantively identical to that in NAFTA." The amendments include "updating outdated cross-references" to the agency's AD/CVD regulations, "updating outdated notice, filing, service, and protective order procedures, and adopting other minor corrections and updates."

The Canadian government commented on the rule, asking the agency to amend its regulations to "clarify that Commerce will order continued suspension of liquidation pending binational panel review upon request by a foreign government interested party." Ottawa asked the agency to amend its regulations to comport with the requirements of the AD statute by listing "foreign government interested parties as parties that may request suspension."

The U.S. said in response that it disagrees with Canada's reading of the statute, which the government said "does not provide for suspension of liquidation requests by foreign government interested parties." Despite the disagreement, the U.S. said in a bid to "resolve confusion" it amended its regulations to say that "foreign governments are not listed as interested parties who may request the continuation of suspension."

Canada also asked that Commerce amend its regulations to clarify that the definition of "scope determination or class or kind of merchandise determination" includes circumvention proceedings and covered merchandise referral decisions. The U.S. agreed and said it adopted its Northern neighbor's suggestions.

However, the U.S. disagreed with Canada's suggestion that Commerce shorten the time in which parties can object to administrative protective order applications. A shortening of this deadline was not included in the USMCA and "Canada does not provide a compelling reason for its proposed change," the agency said.