Volume 49, Issue 3 - March 2014

Legislation&Legal

Industry Hails Ruling on Chinese Curtainwall

The Court of International Trade (CIT) is standing behind its decision that Chinese curtainwall units imported into the U.S. are subject to trade remedy orders. The ruling was issued in late January in a case brought forth last fall by Yuanda challenging Commerce’s curtainwall scope decision.

John D’Amario, northwestern USA sales manager for Yuanda, believes the ruling, ironically, may have done more to damage the U.S. aluminum industry than anything its Chinese competitors might have ever accomplished.

“All they succeeded in effect is bringing China closer to the homeland,” D’Amario says.

According to the ruling, “Because curtainwall units are ‘parts for’ a finished curtainwall, the court’s primary holding is that curtainwall units and other parts of curtainwall systems fall within the scope of the Orders … for this reason … Commerce’s Final Scope Ruling is sustained.”

David Spooner, the attorney from the law firm of Squire Sanders who represented defendants Walters & Wolf, Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems Inc. and Architectural Glass & Aluminum Co., welcomes the decision.

“The Court thoroughly examined the facts and ruled that curtainwall units are covered by the China tariffs, and always have been covered. Period,” Spooner says. “No ifs, ands, or buts. We’ve been working with Customs to make sure that the tariffs are enforced and will, of course, make sure that the ports are aware of the Court’s ruling.”

But D’Amario says the ruling just means that companies such as Yuanda and others will simply buy their aluminum elsewhere before bringing it to China, fabricating it there and then selling it in the U.S.

“It’s not really going to affect us,” D’Amario says, “but the price of aluminum could be a little more costly because aluminum is the cheapest in China.”

D’Amario adds that Yuanda and others have already moved forward with plans to open manufacturing plants in Tijuana, Mexico, where the close proximity to the U.S. border and readily available cheap labor figures to help.

“[The court decision] is kind of like the war on drugs,” D’Amario says. “Some people earn their keep by fighting the war. To me, it’s just another speed bump for the Chinese.”

Also speaking on the issue, Tom Black, chief operating officer for Walters & Wolf in Freemont, Calif., adds, “I don’t view this as a Chinese issue. I view this as a fairness issue. I wish China well. However, they must play by the rules if they wish to participate in a world market.”

Black says he expected the court’s affirmation of its earlier ruling, but cautioned against prematurely thinking the issue has been settled once and for all. The Chinese, he says, could still petition the World Trade Organization.

D’Amario commented, “We’re not in a position to divulge our course of action. However, we are continuing to do business as usual.”

Clarification
The photo caption on page 18 of the February 2014 issue of USGlass should have referred to switchable glass in general and should have been credited to Elmont Glass. USGlass regrets the error.



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