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What the vote means: Tariffs are not retroactive

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The bad news for importers and manufacturers of Chinese tires is that tariffs are here to stay. The good news is that they aren’t retroactive.

When the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) voted in agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) that passenger and light truck tires made in China are harming the U.S. tire market, the six-member board then had one additional issue to settle. Was there evidence of ‘critical circumstances’? Or, to put it in plain English, was there evidence importers and manufacturers had quickly increased their shipments into the U.S. after learning a tariff might be coming? Was there evidence they tried to beat the clock?

In its rulings, the DOC said yes, there was evidence of what it called ‘massive’ shipments — an increase in imports of more than 15%.

But the ITC disagreed, saying it made “negative findings with respect to critical circumstances.” (We won’t know the reasoning behind the ITC’s no vote until its public report is published sometime in August.)

So, when will importers and manufacturers pay the tariffs?

They’re paying them now. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) started collecting the final anti-dumping and countervailing rates, ranging from 14.35% to 100.77%, beginning June 18, 2015 — the day the DOC’s decision was published in the Federal Register.

The next question importers and manufacturers will be asking is — where’s my refund?

Some had been ordered to pay tariffs dating back to Sept. 2, 2014 (in the countervailing investigation) and Oct. 29, 2014 (in the anti-dumping investigation.)

Issuing refunds will be the job of the CBP.


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