In a unanimous 6-0 vote, the commissioners of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) yesterday ruled preliminarily that imports of honey from Argentina and China injured or threatened injury to the U.S. honey industry.

The ITC injury decision in the unfair trade case filed on September 29, 2000 by the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA) and the Sioux Honey Association (SHA) jumpstarts the Department of Commerce to proceed with a dumping investigation of honey imports from the named countries. Additionally, Commerce will investigate a charge of unfair government subsidization on imports from Argentina. Commerce is responsible for determining the amount of dumping and countervailing duties on imports of unfairly traded product. These duties are intended to bring the U.S. price of these imports to a fair level, thereby eliminating the unfair pricing advantage these imports have enjoyed over domestically-produced honey.

Commerce is scheduled to announce its preliminary determination on the unfair subsidy case against Argentina on January 2, 2001. Preliminary determinations in the antidumping investigations against Argentina and China are currently due on March 20, 2001.

AHPA represents about 500 domestic beekeepers. SHA is a cooperative of 322 honey producers. They contend that honey imports from China and Argentina are being dumped or sold in the United States at a less than fair value, destroying a U.S. industry dependent on selling raw honey at a profit in its own market.

Michael J. Coursey, an international trade partner with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Collier Shannon Scott, PLLC, serves as counsel to the AHPA and SHA.