Stepping on Supply Risk: Is China Dumping an Inferior Grating Product on the US?

Even though I have historically been conservative in my views on anti-dumping cases -- I think the burden of proof must lie entirely with those filing the complaints -- a recent case in the steel industry, is (so sorry for the pun), grating on me. Our sister site MetalMiner recently covered what first appeared to be a simple anti-dumping case in the steel grating market, but in fact has turned into another China product substitution/quality brouhaha where, according to the US Department of Commerce, "grating manufacturers from China, their hot-rolled coil producer/suppliers, or both falsified the mill test certificates for these products." These are products that we step on every day.

According to MetalMiner, "it means any fire escapes, catwalks, walkways, stairs, mooring docks, overhead sign platforms, bridge sidewalks and airplane unloading ramps, as examples that have been built from 2006 to 2010." The Commerce Department believes that the Chinese material does not meet ANSI and NAAMM (National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers) standards. In other words, dumping arguments aside, Chinese suppliers not only sold inferior and potential dangerous materials into the US based on their applications, they also knowingly falsified information in the process.

If these accusations are true, the entire event marks a new escalation of Chinese product quality concerns. Falsification of certification and documentation is more egregious than unknowingly shipping sub-standard parts or finished products containing substitute or sub-standard ingredients or materials. This latter scenario has been the case of many China sourcing scandals in the US to date. If more transgressions like this occur, China may ultimately be the one hurting its own trade cause as US and European businesses and consumers may be willing to pay premiums for non-China products and materials they know are safe and do not create potentially catastrophic legal liabilities (e.g., in the case of the grating product, imagine if bridges, docks or other infrastructure fail, leading to injury or loss of life due to inferior building materials).

Jason Busch

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