The United States anti-dumping investigation against lemon juice from South Africa: what happened, and where to now?
On 30 December 2021, a California-based producer of lemon juice and other related products (Ventura Coastal LLC) petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), alleging that producers in South Africa and Brazil were selling lemon juice to U.S. importers at less than fair value (LTFV). The petition requested that punitive anti-dumping duties be levied on imports into the U.S. of such products sourced from (the named) businesses in South Africa and Brazil.
The preliminary investigation undertaken by U.S. authorities has not had a favourable outcome from the perspective of South African (and Brazilian) lemon juice exporters, since it was unable to find compelling evidence that would have resulted in a termination of the investigation. The petition to launch the investigation had earlier been found to be legally sufficient and representative of the local lemon juice industry. The U.S. Department of Commerce expects to complete its preliminary investigation and announce its findings by the end of July 2022. An adverse finding would, from that point onwards, compel U.S. importers to lodge cash deposits or guarantees equivalent to the preliminary dumping margin, pending the completion of the investigations, public hearings and briefs from interested parties.
The investigation will create a significant amount of uncertainty for producers, exporters and importers (and industrial consumers in the U.S.), and it can reasonably be expected that this uncertainty will already be having an impact. Businesses can ill afford a potential dumping margin of 100% or more, and importers may shy away from trade in subject goods or incorporate a defensive strategy into any contracting to minimise the potential impact of anti-dumping duties. The uncertainty and resulting financial and trade impact is unavoidable, irrespective of the merits of the case, especially since the preliminary investigation resulted in a continuation of the investigation against certain imports from both named countries.
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