Sunday, October 13, 2013
Is a high-energy scanner a "like product" with a low-energy scanner? MOFCOM says yes, WTO panel says no.
I had a look today at the WTO panel decision in China - Definitive Anti-Dumping Duties on X-Ray Security Inspection Equipment from the European Union. This was a complaint by the EU against China for its finding of dumping against Smiths Heimann GmbH ("Smiths"), a European exporter of x-ray security inspection equipment, i.e., scanning machines.
Smiths might have been justified in thinking it had not received an entirely fair hearing before the Ministry of Commerce ("MOFCOM"); the Chinese complainant, Nuctech, was closely associated with Chinese leader Hu Jintao's son, Hu Haifeng - he had been president of the company until 2008, when he was promoted to become the Party secretary of Tsinghua Holdings, a company that controls Nuctech and a number of other companies. In any case, the WTO panel seems to have agreed. It found pretty much across the board in favor of the EU.
An interesting aspect of the case was the question of whether the so-called "low energy scanners" exported by Smiths were a "like product" with high-energy scanners manufactured by Nuctech. It worked in Nuctech's favor to find that they were, and MOFCOM duly so found. The panel was not impressed. In fact, it even bolstered its finding by including in the report photographs of each kind of scanner. You be the judge:
Am I being too cynical to suspect that the fix was in?