Guide

Anti-dumping and countervailing duties

Undertakings and circumvention

When it is suspected that goods are being dumped in the European Union (EU) at an unfairly low price, an investigation can be started. This page explains the investigation process and how customs officers deal with goods that may have been diverted to avoid duty.

Once the European Community (EC) decides to investigate, an investigation typically lasts a maximum of 15 months. The EC can impose provisional duties up to a maximum time of nine months after the investigation has commenced if this is justified. A final decision is made in terms of whether to make the measures definitive within a further six months. If the investigations show that dumping is not occurring, no additional duties are imposed. Any provisional duties that have already been paid are refunded.

Definitive duties can then be imposed for a period of up to five years. After this period has expired, this regulation will normally be reviewed to see if any extension is warranted.

Provisional anti-dumping or countervailing duty may be imposed while the investigation is being carried out. If the investigation shows that the goods are being dumped, definitive duty is then imposed.

More serious cases and investigations, known as missions, are usually carried out by the anti-fraud office of the European Commission, OLAF, sometimes with a delegate from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in attendance. Usually it is exporters that are investigated, although manufacturers and agents can be subject to investigation too.

Undertakings

An investigation can be stopped if a particular exporter of the suspect goods gives a satisfactory undertaking to stop the suspected dumping. For example, the exporter can increase the price to a fair level, or stop exporting the goods to the areas where they were being dumped. The exporter must also provide evidence of doing this, and allow customs to carry out any required checks.

Circumvention

Anti-dumping and countervailing duties are imposed on goods from a particular country. Sometimes traders try to avoid the duties by diverting goods so that they seem to come from somewhere else, eg goods could be sent to another country, repackaged, and then exported to the EU.

If customs detect circumvention like this, all imports of the goods in question may be investigated by the EC's authorities.

If the goods are later proven to have originated in the country that is subject to anti-dumping duty, then the EC is likely to extend any regulations to cover such imports - regardless of where they originate. This means that all imports of the affected goods from the 'transit' country could have anti-dumping duty imposed - regardless of their origin.