Lion Elastomers L.L.C. filed the antidumping petition in November 2021 against ESBR imports from the two countries, along with Italy. It alleged there was a "clear pattern of unfair pricing" of ESBR from these countries. The investigation into Italian imports was concluded in May, when Lion Elastomers withdrew its petition with regards to Italy.
Lion's petition covered grades of ESBR included in the IISRP 1500 and 1700 series of synthetic rubbers sold in all solid forms, including, but not limited to, bales, granules, crumbs, pellets, powders, plates, sheets and strip. ESBR is used primarily in tire applications as well as in conveyor belts, shoe soles, hose, roller coverings and flooring.
Lion Elastomers and Goodyear are the only two U.S. producers of the materials, with both of their plants located in Texas. Goodyear did not join the petition.
The ITC said in its release that U.S. imports of ESBR covered by the investigation totaled $41.7 million in 2021, while imports not subject to the petition were $29.6 million.
During a Nov. 8 hearing before the ITC commissioners, Lion Elastomers claimed the financial damage caused by the underselling was so severe it may need to close the Texas synthetic rubber facility where it produces ESBR if it doesn't get relief.
"The impact of this surge of low-priced imports has been devastating—Lion's trade and financial data speaks for itself in this respect," Bobby Rikhoff, vice president of venture projects for Lion Elastomers, said in his testimony. "The simple reality is that we will likely need to shutter our Port Neches (Texas) plant without remedial action by the commission.
"This investigation is therefore critical to the future viability of the domestic industry."
Those opposing the petition told the commissioners at the Nov. 8 hearing that the customers purchasing the imported ESBR needed an alternate source of the material, as Lion was the only domestic producer focused on selling the SR on the open market. They argued that Goodyear used most of its production in-house, and that other tire makers might also be leery of buying from a competitor.
In final comments to the ITC filed Dec. 6, counsel for respondents Synthos and PJSC Tatneft said the evidence presented "demonstrates that the domestic industry dominates the U.S. market for ESBR, while subject and non-subject imports play a complementary role, ensuring that purchasers are not wholly dependent on the only two U.S. producers, both located in the Gulf and vulnerable to supply disruptions."
The attorneys also argued that throughout the period of investigation, the imports did not gain market share through underselling, but were pulled into the market because the U.S. producers faced severe supply constraints.
"Faced with this record, Lion seeks an affirmative injury determination despite the evidence, not in light of it," the counsel said in its final comments. "It asks the Commission to reach conclusions that are unsupported by the record data, papering the record with new information to support its claims. Yet, that new information is untimely; fails to support Lion's arguments; and/or contradicts those arguments."
Lion previously had pursued an antidumping case in 2016 against ESBR imported from Brazil, Mexico, Poland and South Korea. The Department of Commerce and ITC ruled in its favor, and imposed dumping margins of 19.61 percent for Brazil, 19.52 percent for Mexico, 25.43 percent for Poland, and ranging from 9.66 to 44.30 percent for South Korea.
The ITC, in fact, just voted Nov. 4 to conduct a sunset review of those duties.