The U.S. International Trade Commission has turned thumbs down on a request to review polychloroprene rubber antidumping duties, made by Gates Corp. and about a dozen other rubber product makers.
The ITC rejected by a 5-0 vote the petition to institute a ``changed circumstances'' review of the 55-percent anti-dumping duties against polychloroprene rubber from Japan. The manufacturers said they face serious shortages of neoprene, while DuPont Performance Elastomers L.L.C., the only remaining U.S. producer of the rubber, said it has been supplying any company that asks for it.
The commissioners registered their votes between March 3-8, and one didn't vote. As is usual with the ITC, the commissioners didn't immediately explain the reasoning behind their votes but planned shortly to issue a statement on the decision.
The vote was a major disappointment for Gates and its supporters. They claimed that, with the closure of the Polimeri Europa S.p.A. neoprene plant in France, shortages of the synthetic rubber are reaching disastrous proportions in the U.S.
DuPont Performance Elastomers is not producing enough to supply every U.S. manufacturer that needs the material, Gates argued in its Nov. 21 petition. DuPont's plans to close its neoprene plant in Louisville, Ky., and consolidate neoprene producton at its Pontchartrain, La., site will further limit supplies, the manufacturer said.
Gates was backed by several smaller companies, Goodyear and the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association.
``We wanted DuPont to show how a company that enjoys a virtual monopoly over U.S. manufacture of a certain material could claim to be materially injured by imports,'' said Frank Schuchat, a Denver attorney representing Gates, after the ITC vote.
A DuPont spokeswoman said her company is very pleased with the ITC decision, and that DuPont always tries to work with customers to ensure their needs are being met.
``We are not aware of any customer who is unable to get product from us,'' she said.
Answering the Gates petition, DuPont said it has proven itself a reliable supplier of neoprene, particularly in the wake of the Gulf Coast hurricanes that were virtually simultaneous with Polimeri's closure of its French plant.
DuPont also argued that Gates has no standing under federal law to request a changed circumstances review of the anti-dumping duties, because it is not a manufacturer of polychloroprene rubber.
Lanxess Corp., now the only major importer of neoprene into the U.S., was DuPont's ally in the ITC dispute. Among other things, Lanxess argued that China is scheduled to increase its neoprene capacity by 30,000 metric tons this year, and that some of that rubber probably will find its way to the U.S.