Curtainwall Coalition Gears Up in Tariff Battle; Opposition “Not Going Anywhere”

An alliance of West Coast-based curtainwall producers in a legal battle regarding tariffs is looking to take its campaign to a national level. Its opponents are confidently prepared to continue the back-and-forth.

In May, the Commerce Department revised a decision that initially asserted certain curtainwall parts imported from China were subjected to tariffs on aluminum extrusions. Commerce and the Court of Appeals both previously affirmed the parts were covered in the scope of the tariffs, which were put in place in 2011, but the recent revision excused them from the scope.

The “Curtainwall Coalition” (CWC)—consisting of Architectural Glass and Aluminum, Walters and Wolf and Bagatelos—filed a brief in June in the Court opposing the revision. The coalition originally brought the scope issue to light in 2012 when it requested a clarification that the curtainwall units in fact fell under the tariffs.

“Curtainwall products are clearly and specifically covered in those orders,” says Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) president Jeff Henderson. “Up until earlier this year, every attempt to remove curtainwall parts from the scope of the orders has failed.” Henderson says because Commerce filed the revised decision “under protest,” the opportunity to appeal the decision is open. “That’s what the coalition is getting ready for.”

Yuanda is at the center of the CWC’s opposition, alongside Jango Curtain Wall Americas, Permasteelisa and their affiliates. In late June, the three parties filed separate responses to the CWC’s comments following the revised decision. They are backed by multiple law firms and show no signs of backing down assuming the CWC continues its efforts.

“Our defense has an unlimited amount of funds and we enjoy seeing the CWC continue to burn through their money,” says John D’Amario, Northwest USA sales manager of Yuanda’s American division. “It’s very laughable. We’re not going anywhere. Get used to it.”

The revised decision in favor of Yuanda came after a federal judge in the Court of International Trade (CIT) determined in February that the original scope ruling “redefines key terms contrary to the plain language of the [orders] … does not reasonably consider the characteristics of Plaintiffs’ merchandise and the evidence that weighs against the agency’s determination … and offers insufficient reasons for treating similar products differently.”

Henderson says the coalition “needs national support” from the industry to pool its resources in preparation for continued appeals.

The CWC sent out an email blast Wednesday to the industry stating the coalition is “confident that we will prevail in the current litigation” but that winning “may require a second hearing before the Court of Appeals, a hearing in which we are opposed by three law firms and their Chinese company clients.” It also says the Chinese industry has an “unfair advantage because it is subsidized by its government, “making it impossible for U.S. manufacturers to compete. They go into a target country and undercut prices so much that they drive virtually all competitors out of business.”

“My concern about this is given how much of a bite in the market the Chinese have shown they can take with aluminum in general,” adds Henderson. “[For the curtainwall industry], this has been contained mostly to the West Coast, and folks elsewhere in the country maybe don’t see it on a day-to-day basis. But if it’s determined that these parts are clearly out of the scope, then it will be seen elsewhere.”

Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ in the coming weeks and months as this situation continues to unfold.

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