Byline: Joanna Ramey

WASHINGTON — The U.S. International Trade Commission has unanimously rejected a claim by domestic yarn spinners that Austrian mills have been selling open-end-spun, single-filament rayon yarn in the U.S. at less than fair-market prices.
In its 4-0 decision, the ITC cited numerous market forces — like the reduction in demand by U.S. fabric producers for the yarn — for having forced all suppliers to lower their prices. In addition, the agency said volume orders for Austrian yarn from one U.S. importer, Beaverton Mills Inc., also contributed to lower imported prices. The fact that U.S. fabric producers buy Austrian yarn that is sometimes priced higher than U.S. yarn also was cited by the ITC.
The commission’s Sept. 14 decision runs counter to one made earlier by the International Trade Administration, which sided with U.S. producers and set dumping duties against Austria. These now are nullified by the ITC findings.
Lewis Johnson, vice president, American Yarn Spinners Association, Gastonia, N.C., said members of the group that brought the dumping action are weighing whether to appeal the case to the U.S. Court of International Trade. “It’s frustrating. There’s the [ITA] that says the Austrian companies are dumping, and at the final step, the ITC [says there’s no injury],” Johnson said.
The association filed the dumping case a year ago on behalf of 10 U.S. producers of the yarn, used primarily to produce woven fabrics for women’s apparel. The manufacturers alleged that Austrian producers were undercutting U.S. open-end rayon yarn prices by 25 to 30 percent.
The Austrians argued they weren’t undercutting prices because when the entire U.S. open-end rayon yarn industry is considered — including vertically integrated operations — the Austrian prices were comparable. They argued that vertically integrated producers in the U.S., which supply their own yarn for fabric production, have lower yarn prices than independent manufacturers that sell yarn on the open market.
Furthermore, they countered U.S. producers’ arguments of Austrians selling yarn at higher prices to their own domestic consumers. The ITC agreed with the Austrians that these higher prices are due to smaller orders for the yarn.
Additionally, “Austrians have an advantage over raw material prices and, more importantly, when we look at the production efficiencies, the Austrians have the latest machines, which they operate 24 hours a day,” said Gunter von Conrad, a Washington lawyer representing Austrian yarn spinner Linz Textil GmbH. Linz and textile giant Borckenstein & Sohn AG were the main targets of the dumping case.
According to government figures, Austria last year shipped 9.5 million kilograms of category 603 open-end rayon yarn to the U.S., which is more than half the 14.3 million kilograms supplied by foreign producers. According to the spinners’ association, virtually all of the 603 yarn supplied by Austria was open-end single filament yarn.
In 1995, Austria shipped 7.4 million kilograms of the yarn, and for the first six months of this year, 3.9 million kilograms. Thailand is the second-largest foreign supplier of category 603 yarn. In 1996, it shipped 1.3 million kilograms and 1995 sent one million kilograms. So far this year, it has shipped one million kilograms of the yarns.

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