Spencer Griffith Quoted in Law360 on Significance of China Foil WTO Dispute

Akin Gump international trade partner Spencer Griffith has been quoted in the Law360 story “US Lights Spark That May Set Off China Powder Keg At WTO,” regarding a preliminary decision by the Trump administration in a trade dispute with China over aluminum foil. The article reports that the United States has imposed duties of as much as 162 percent and declared China a nonmarket economy, which raises the stakes in a fight at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“To the administration, this case is one of the most important items on the trade agenda,” said Spencer. “If the U.S. were to lose this case in the WTO, I don’t know what the administration would do about our WTO involvement. So the U.S. will fight this extremely hard and China will fight this extremely hard.”

As the article notes, Beijing has filed a WTO complaint against Washington, arguing that it should be treated as a market economy. The U.S. Commerce Department, however, has concluded in a memo that China does not operate sufficiently on market principles “to permit the use of Chinese prices and costs for purposes of the department’s antidumping analysis.”

According to Griffith, the analysis conducted by the Commerce Department suggests it already sensed that this issue would “end up before a [WTO] panel in Geneva.” He added that he expects the memo in the foil case to serve as the latest update to standing U.S. policy, rather than an open door to revisit the issue any chance it may get.

“I think in the next case they will simply refer to this memo,” Spencer said. “I don’t think they’ll do a 200-page analysis in every case. They would probably put this memo in the file of every future China case.”