In a September 23, 2014 opinion remanding a scope proceeding to the Department of Commerce for further explanation, the Court of International Trade (“CIT”) called into question
Commerce’s analysis of the scope of the AD/CVD Orders governing the import of Chinese
extruded aluminum products. Specifically, the Court appeared to be sympathetic to the
arguments advanced by Rubbermaid Commercial Products, LLC, in challenging the Department
of Commerce’s scope ruling involving numerous Rubbermaid cleaning tools. In its scope ruling,
Commerce found that Rubbermaid’s mop handles consisting of extruded aluminum and other
substances were not excluded from the Orders as finished merchandise because the mop handles were not imported with mop heads or other components that consumers attach to the handles after purchase.
Noting “striking differences between the language of the ‘finished merchandise’ exclusion and
the language of the ‘finished goods kit’ exclusion,” the Court recognized that Rubbermaid made
a “reasonably colorable case” that Commerce applied a finished goods kit test – the inclusion of
all parts needed to make a final, finished good – to the analysis of Rubbermaid’s finished
merchandise. The Court also observed the inconsistency between Commerce’s position that
Rubbermaid’s mop handles are not finished merchandise without mop heads and the Orders’
representative examples of finished merchandise, which also require attachments to achieve
functionality. The Court further rejected Commerce’s attempt to distinguish Rubbermaid’s
products from prior and subsequent scope rulings finding merchandise to be “finished” even
though those items required post-import attachments. The Court remanded the matter back to
the Department of Commerce for it to address the issues raised by Rubbermaid and consider the interchangeable and adaptable design of Rubbermaid’s merchandise.
This CIT opinion highlights and gives support to arguments raised in numerous scope requests
pending before Commerce.
Rubbermaid Commercial Products LLC v. U.S., No. 14-113 (Ct. Int’l Trade Sept. 23, 2014).
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