The European General Court delivered a judgment on 18 November 2014 in Luxembourg dismissing the action for annulment of the Council Regulation (No 412/2013) imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of ceramic tableware and kitchenware originating in China in so far as it imposed an anti-dumping duty on the applicant, Photo USA Electronic Graphic, Inc.The applicant is a manufacturer established in Beijing and exports sublimation-coated ceramics and all kinds of photo image products, including ceramic sublimation mugs.
Photo USA Electronic Graphic, Inc. challenged inter alia the product scope and claimed sublimation mugs should be excluded from the definitive anti-dumping duties on ceramic tableware and kitchenware, which were introduced on 15 May 2013. The duties range from 13.1% and 23.4% for cooperating Chinese companies (representing around 400 companies) and 36.1% for non-cooperating companies.
The application for annulment was lodged on 2 August 2013 on behalf of Photo USA Electronic Graphic, Inc. The case T-394/13 was defended by the Council of the European Union and supported by the European Commission and by Cerame-Unie, as interveners. Cerame-Unie represented EU producers of ceramic table- and kitchenware, most notably the European Federation of Ceramic Table- and Ornamentalware (FEPF) and their industry associations Verband der Keramischen Industrie e.V. and Confindustria Ceramica. Cerame-Unie was assisted by lawyer Dr R. Bierwagen.
Following the written procedure, a hearing was held on 24 June 2014 in Luxembourg. On 18 November 2014, the General Court clearly rejected the applicant’s four pleas:
Director General of Cerame-Unie Renaud Batier responded to the decision stating, “this judgment confirms the integrity of the scope of the duties imposed and the legitimacy of the approach followed by the Commission throughout the investigation strictly in compliance with the EU and WTO rules applying to trade defence measures.”
FEPF emphasises its support for the definitive anti-dumping duties on imports of ceramic tableware and kitchenware originating in China. The definitive anti-dumping measures imposed on 15 May 2013 are crucial in order to ensure the sustainable future of the European ceramic tableware industry which consists of more than 200 companies, many of them SMEs, employing over 25,000 people (of which a high proportion are skilled female employees) and in addition supports up to 75,000 indirect jobs. The industry is present in virtually all EU Member States and offers a wide range of products, including ceramic mugs with a variety of decorations and which are aimed at all market segments and distribution channels. The product categories cover the full range of table- and kitchenware ceramics, be they made from porcelain, earthenware, stoneware, common pottery or other ceramic materials.
As foreseen by the WTO rules and the relevant EU legislation, trade defence measures do not aim to foreclose the market but re-establish a level playing field against unfair trade practices. Several other countries (e.g. Colombia, Indonesia, Egypt and Argentina) have already instituted anti-dumping measures against Chinese imports at much higher rates.
Europe’s ceramic industry is an innovative, vibrant and efficient industry which exports around 25% of its production to countries outside of the EU and has a positive trade balance of €5 billion. The EU industry will remain extremely vigilant throughout the implementation of these measures to ensure that their effectiveness is not undermined by illegal practices designed to circumvent anti-dumping duties.