GPX INTERNATIONAL TIRE CORPORATION, and HEBEI STARBRIGHT TIRE CO., LTD., Plaintiffs,
UNITED STATES, Defendant, TIANJIN UNITED TIRE & RUBBER INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD., Consolidated Plaintiff, . BRIDGESTONE AMERICAS, INC., BRIDGESTONE AMERICAS TIRE OPERATIONS, LLC, TITAN TIRE CORPORATION, and UNITED STEEL, PAPER AND FORESTRY, RUBBER, MANUFACTURING, ENERGY, ALLIED INDUSTRIAL AND SERVICE WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION, AFL-CIO-CLC, Defendant-Intervenors. Slip Op. 13-132
[Commerce's redetermination in countervailing duty case is sustained.]
William H. Barringer, Daniel L. Porter, James P. Durling, Matthew P. McCullough, and Ross E. Bidlingmaier, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, of Washington, DC, for the Plaintiffs GPX International Tire Corporation and Hebei Starbright Tire Co., Ltd.
Mark B. Lehnardt, Lehnardt & Lehnardt, LLC, of Liberty, MO, argued for Consolidated Plaintiff Tianjin United Tire & Rubber International Co., Ltd.
Alexander V. Sverdlov, Trial Attorney, Commercial Litigation Branch, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice, of Washington, DC, argued for the Defendant. With him on the brief were Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Jeanne E. Davidson, Director, Franklin E. White, Jr., Assistant Director, Loren M. Preheim, Trial Attorney, and John J. Todor, Trial Attorney. Of counsel on the brief were Daniel J. Calhoun and Matthew D. Walden, Attorneys, U.S. Department of Commerce, of Washington, DC.
Elizabeth J. Drake, Stewart and Stewart, of Washington, DC, argued for the Defendant-Intervenors Titan Tire Corporation and United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO-CLC. With her on the brief were Terence P. Stewart, Geert M. De Prest, William A. Fennel, Eric P. Salonen, and Wesley K. Caine.
Joseph W. Dorn, J. Michael Taylor, Daniel L. Schneiderman, Jeffrey M. Telep, Kevin M. Dinan, Prentiss L. Smith, and Christopher T. Cloutier, King & Spalding, LLP, of Washington, DC, for Defendant-Intervenors Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC and Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
Before: Jane A. Restani, Judge Consol. Court No. 08-00285
Jane A. Restani, Judge
This matter is before the court following a remand to the Department of Commerce ("Commerce") in GPX Int'l Tire Corp. v. United States, 893 F.Supp.2d 1296 (CIT 2013) ("GPX VII"). Plaintiffs GPX International Tire Corporation ("GPX") and Hebei Starbright Tire Co., Ltd. ("Starbright"),  Consolidated Plaintiff Tianjin United Tire & Rubber International Co., Ltd. ("TUTRIC"), and Defendant-Intervenors Titan Tire Corporation and United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO-CLC (collectively, "Titan") challenge various aspects of the Final Results of Redetermination Pursuant to Remand, ECF No. 394 ("Remand Results"). For the reasons set forth below, Commerce's Remand Results are sustained.
The court assumes familiarity with the facts of this case as set out in the previous opinions. See generally GPX VII, 893 F.Supp.2d at 1318–34. For ease of understanding, however, a brief summary is provided below.
This case involves challenges to Commerce's final determination in a countervailing duty ("CVD") investigation of certain pneumatic off-the-road tires from the People's Republic of China ("PRC"). See Certain New Pneumatic Off-the-Road Tires from the People's Republic of China: Final Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination and Final Negative Determination of Critical Circumstances, 73 Fed. Reg. 40, 480 (Dep't Commerce July 15, 2008); see also Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Final Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination: Certain New Pneumatic Off-the-Road Tires (OTR Tires) from the People's Republic of China, C-570-913, POI: 1/01/06–12/30/06 (July 7, 2008), available at http://ia.ita.doc.gov/frn/summary/prc/E8–16154–1.pdf (last visited Oct. 21, 2013) ("I & D Memo"). In its previous order, the court instructed Commerce to address five issues raised in the initial rounds of briefing in this matter. See GPX VII, 893 F.Supp.2d at 1319–33. Specifically, the court ordered Commerce to: 1) re-weigh the evidence related to the arm's-length nature of the Hebei Tire Co., Ltd. ("Hebei Tire") asset sale; 2) examine the veracity of appraisals proffered by GPX in determining whether Hebei Tire's assets were sold for fair market value ("FMV"); 3) explain its inability to offset any subsidy determined to have been transferred to Starbright by any amount of the purchase price that reflected payment for the subsidy; 4) explain its loan benefit calculation and whether Titan's alternative methodology constitutes a legitimate attempt to avoid a distorted calculation; and 5) consider evidence concerning the transfer of TUTRIC debt holdings and reduce TUTRIC's benefit calculation by the amount of any payment made by or on behalf of TUTRIC. See id. On remand, Commerce: 1) determined that the sale of Hebei Tire's assets was not conducted at arm's length; 2) determined that the appraisals proffered by GPX are unsatisfactory for benchmarking purposes; 3) explained its inability to calculate a purchase price offset; 4) explained its loan benefit calculation and why it rejected Titan's alternative; and 5) considered TUTRIC's evidence, continued to find that TUTRIC benefited from countervailable debt forgiveness, and reduced TUTRIC's benefit calculation as ordered. See Remand Results at 1–2.
GPX continues to challenge Commerce's findings concerning the nature of the Hebei Tire asset sale. Resp't Pl.'s Cmts. on the U.S. Dep't of Commerce's Remand Redetermination, ECF No. 397 ("GPX Cmts.") 1–9. Titan argues that Commerce's loan benefit calculations are unlawful and unsupported by substantial evidence. Cmts. of the Titan Tire Corp. and the United Steelworkers Union on the Dep't of Commerce's Redetermination Pursuant to Remand, ECF No. 398 ("Titan Cmts.") 2–7. Although TUTRIC's rate of countervailing duties was reduced on remand from 6.85% to 3.93% because the allegedly forgiven debt was partially repaid, TUTRIC argues that Commerce failed to reasonably consider the evidence concerning its debt financing and that Commerce's determination is contrary to law. Cmts. on Remand Redetermination of Tianjin United Tire and Rubber Int'l Co., Ltd., ECF No. 400 ("TUTRIC Cmts.") 10–19. Defendant United States responds that Commerce's determinations are supported by substantial evidence and in accordance with law. Def.'s Resp. to Cmts. on the Final Redetermination Pursuant to Ct. Remand, ECF No. 412 ("Def. Cmts.") 10–31.
JURISDICTION AND STANDARD OF REVIEW
The court has continuing jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1581(c). The court will not uphold any determination by Commerce that is "unsupported by substantial evidence on the record, or otherwise not in accordance with law." 19 U.S.C. § 1516a(b)(1)(B).
I. Change in Ownership of Hebei Tire