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Commerce Announces New Section 232 Investigation on Imports of Mobile Cranes

mobile cranes

Commerce Announces New Section 232 Investigation on Imports of Mobile Cranes

On May 6, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Commerce will initiate an investigation to examine whether imports of mobile cranes were threatening to impair the national security. Commerce will conduct an examination into both the quantities or circumstances of mobile crane imports.

Section 232 investigations are conducted under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and authorizes the President of the United States, through tariffs or other means, to adjust the imports of goods or materials from other countries if it deems the quantity or circumstances surrounding these imports threaten national security.

This new investigation was initiated after the filing of a petition by domestic producer, The Manitowoc Company, Inc. (Manitowoc), on December 19, 2019, requesting that the Department of Commerce launch an investigation into mobile crane imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended. Similar to all other 232 investigations, this one will also be conducted by Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. Commerce in its announcement stated that it will be providing an opportunity for public comment once the initiation is published in the Federal Register.

Manitowoc’s petition alleges that increased imports of low-priced mobile cranes, particularly from Germany, Austria, and Japan, and intellectual property (IP) infringement by foreign competition, have harmed the domestic mobile crane manufacturing industry. The Department of Homeland Security has identified mobile cranes as a critical industry because of their extensive use in national defense applications, as well as in critical infrastructure sectors.

While the text of the petition has yet to be made available to the public for review, according to Commerce’s press release the “petitioner claims the low-priced imports and IP infringement resulted in the closure of one of its two production facilities in the United States and eliminated hundreds of skilled manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin.” In addition, Manitowoc alleges that imports have increased “152% between 2014 and 2019.” This increase in imports coupled with an earlier 2015 finding that a Chinese crane manufacturer “misappropriated six trade secrets and infringed on a patent” which resulted in the ITC banning the sale of a Chinese crane in the United States led to the filing of the case.

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Nithya Nagarajan is a Washington-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. She practices in the International Trade & Supply Chain group of the firm’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation industry team.

Auto Tariffs Spark Lawsuit Against Department of Commerce

Once again, auto tariffs have made the news. This time, it involves the Cause of Action Institute (CoA), the Department of Commerce , and a lawsuit. The lawsuit, at the request of the CoA, is in response to an information request that the Department of Commerce did not release. Originally, the CoA requested a copy of Commerce Secretary’s final report to the President regarding the Section 232 investigation.

Commerce claims that the information contained in their report justifies the proposed auto-tariffs, but the government refuses to release this report. The public should not have to take the government’s word that the report supports tariffs when the administration withholds the document it claims support its position. The tariffs will harm American consumers and businesses, and the public has a right to see the information contained in the report. We are dedicated to placing this vital information into the public sphere, ensuring that the government complies with its statutory obligations, and we look forward to a robust debate about the merits of the report,” said James Valvo, counsel and senior policy advisor at Cause of Action Institute.

This request occurred on two occasions, with the Department of Commerce stating it wouldn’t release the report to the public. Now the CoA is fighting in the name of transparency by holding the Department of Commerce accountable for not releasing the report within the statutory time-frame.