From the Sun Journal, written by Christopher Wheelock
MECHANIC FALLS — Auburn Manufacturing Inc. is savoring its second legal victory over Chinese competitors, who it has long accused of harming its business by unfairly dumping subsidized imports of amorphous silica fabric into the U.S. market.
It’s a core product that AMI has made for decades and is used in welding curtains, fire protection and insulation because of its heat resistant qualities.
“We are always encouraged to see progress from a public policy perspective, but our fight goes on,” Kathie Leonard, president and chief executive officer at Auburn Manufacturing Inc., said. “Manufacturers like AMI cannot rest on their laurels as China continues to engage in unfair and illegal trade practices, putting American companies out of business. In addition to serving our valued customers, we will continue advocating for fair, rules-based trade while holding the wrongdoers accountable.”
The Commerce Department has found that imports of the silica fabric from China have been circumventing antidumping and countervailing duty orders it put in place in 2017, following the first lawsuit filed by AMI. But Leonard wasn’t convinced that the playing field was level, even after the imposition of up to 300% tariffs on amorphous silica fabric imports. In a July 2022 interview following a site visit by a Commerce Department delegation, Leonard told the Sun Journal, “I don’t think it’s been that successful because I think the Chinese have found ways around it.”
Essentially, Chinese manufacturers were exporting top quality silica fabric, defined as above 90% silica, importing it as a lower quality material to avoid the tariffs, then selling it at a lower price to steal away market share from AMI, whose silica fabric is 96% silica.
After an investigation, the Commerce Department agreed with AMI’s position and in its latest action has instructed Customs and Border Protection to continue suspending entries of 70-90% amorphous silica fabric and requiring cash deposits, heightening the scrutiny of Chinese exports currently evading duty orders.