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Sunpreme Inc. v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

June 14, 2018

SUNPREME INC., Plaintiff -Appellee
v.
UNITED STATES, SOLARWORLD AMERICAS, INC., Defendants -Appellants

          Appeals from the United States Court of International Trade in No. 1:15cv00315CRK, Judge Claire R. Kelly.

          Nancy Noonan, Arent Fox, LLP, Washington, DC, argued for plaintiffappellee. Also represented by John M. Gurley, Diana Dimitriuc Quaia.

          Justin Reinhart Miller, International Trade Field Office, Commercial Litigation Branch, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, New York, NY, argued for defendantappellant United States. Also represented by Chad A. Readler, Jeanne E. Davidson, Reginald T. Blades, Jr.; Paula S. Smith, Office of the Assistant Chief Counsel, United States Bureau of Cus toms and Border Protection, United States Department of Homeland Security, New York, NY.

          Maureen E. Thorson, Wiley Rein, LLP, Washington, DC, argued for defendantappellant SolarWorld Americas, Inc. Also represented by Timothy C. Brightbill, Stephanie Manaker Bell, Tessa V. Capeloto, Laura ElSabaawi, Derick Holt, Usha Neelakantan, Adam Milan Teslik, .

          Before Newman, Lourie, and Reyna, Circuit Judges.

          REYNA, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         SolarWorld America Inc. and the United States appeal from the judgment of the United States Court of International Trade in favor of Sunpreme Inc., concluding that the United States Customs and Border Protection exceeded its authority in reaching a determination that certain products imported by Sunpreme are covered by the scope of antidumping and countervailing duty orders on U.S. imports of solar cells from the People's Republic of China. Because the Court of International Trade lacked jurisdiction to hear Sunpreme's claims, we reverse.

         Background

         I.

         U.S. trade laws provide that "American industries may petition for relief from imports that are sold in the United States at less than fair value . . ., or which benefit from subsidies provided by foreign governments." Allegheny Ludlum Corp. v. United States, 287 F.3d 1365, 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (citing 19 U.S.C. § 1675b (2000)). This relief is sought by filing an antidumping or countervailing duty petition before the U.S. Department of Commerce ("Commerce") and the U.S. International Trade commission("Trade Commission"). Following the filing of such a petition, Commerce determines whether sales of the investigated merchandise have been made at less than fair value ("dumping") or whether a countervailable subsidy has been provided. 19 U.S.C. §§ 1673, 1671(a)(1). The Trade Commission determines whether the imported merchandise materially injures or threatens to materially injure the relevant domestic industry. Id. §§ 1673d(b)(1), 1671d(b)(1). If Commerce's and the Trade Commission's determinations are affirmative, Commerce issues an appropriate antidumping or countervailing duty order. Id. §§ 1673e(a), 1671e(a).

         Commerce is charged with writing antidumping and countervailing duty orders that "include[] a description of the subject merchandise, in such detail as the administering authority deems necessary." Id. §§ 1673e(a)(2), 1671e(a)(2). The orders also provide the antidumping and countervailing duty margins that have been established in the course of the investigations. Id. §§ 1673d(c)(1)(B), 1673e(a)(1), 1671d(c)(1)(B), 1671e(a)(1).

         Once Commerce issues an antidumping or counterivailing duty order, the United States Customs and Border Protection ("Customs") applies and enforces the duty orders through the assessment and collection of antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of the investigated merchandise. 19 C.F.R. §§ 159.41, 159.47, 351.211. When Customs determines a duty order covers entered merchandise, it suspends liquidation and notifies the importer of "determined or estimated" duties. Id. § 159.58(a), (b). "Liquidation" is defined as "the final computation or ascertainment of duties on entries for consumption or drawback entries." Id. § 159.1.

         After the publication of the duty orders, if a question arises as to whether merchandise is encompassed by an order, an interested party may request a scope inquiry by Commerce to determine if a particular type of merchandise is within the class or kind of merchandise described in an existing duty order. See 19 C.F.R. § 351.225. Commerce has the express authority to conduct a scope inquiry and to clarify the scope of an unclear order pursuant to 19 C.F.R. § 351.225(a), and "should in the first instance decide whether an antidumping order covers particular products, " because "the order's meaning and scope are issues particularly within the expertise of that agency." Xerox Corp. v. United States, 289 ...


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