WTO Panel Issues Report on U.S. Section 301 Tariffs on $250 Billion of Imports from China   

September 2020

In United States – Tariff Measures on Certain Goods from China, WT/DS543/R (15 Sept 2020), a WTO panel grappled with issues raised by China’s challenge to the United States’ highly-contentious decision to impose tariffs on approximately $250 billion of imports from China, under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.  A link to the panel’s report is here.

The panel first addressed an important preliminary issue, by rejecting the United States’ argument that there was no need for the panel to resolve the issues raised by China because the United States and China had entered into bilateral negotiations to address the underlying trade issues and hence had reached a “mutually satisfactory solution” under Article 12.7 of the DSU. 

On the merits of the dispute, the panel noted that the United States did not attempt to directly refute China’s arguments that the Section 301 tariffs violated the MFN provision of Article I:1 of the GATT and the prohibition against excessive duties under Article II:1(a) and (b).  Rather, the United States claimed that the tariffs were necessary to protect “public morals” and thus were excepted under GATT Article XX(a).  The panel agreed with the United States (and several third parties) that economic concerns can have a “public morals” dimension, which would permit an exception under Article XX.  But the panel concluded that the United States had failed to explain the necessity of the specific measures at issue.  That is, the United States had failed to articulate a “genuine relationship” between the challenged measures (tariffs imposed on a broad range of imports from China) and the public morals objective.

The report includes unusual closing comments in which the panel recognized the larger context of this dispute and the existence of “a range of unprecedented global trade tensions”.  Meanwhile, response to this report has been remarkably muted – perhaps signifying either that the outcome was not a surprise or, more ominously, that the credibility of the WTO as a dispute settlement body has been eroded.  And given that there is currently no method by which a panel report in a dispute involving the United States may be appealed, this panel decision will remain on uncertain ground for the foreseeable future.

Lawsuits Launched to Challenge Section 301 Tariffs on Imports from China

September 2020

In 2018 the Administration launched a series of tariffs targeting a broad range of imports from China, under the authority of Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. These tariffs initially targeted $50 billion of goods, but the scope was quickly and dramatically expanded to cover an additional $300 billion.  Over the past few days, several lawsuits have been launched in the U.S. Court of International Trade, challenging the imposition of the expanded tariffs. The lawsuits challenge both the justifications for the expanded tariffs and the process by which the Administration adopted them. If you would like more information, please contact us at

Court of Appeals Issues Important Decision on the Calculation of Anti-Dumping Duties 

September 2020

On September 3, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Changzhou Trina Solar Energy v. US, regarding the calculation of anti-dumping (AD) duties in cases involving parallel anti-subsidy (or countervailing duty, CVD) determinations. (The decision may be found here.) The Court concluded that where the Department of Commerce found that an export subsidy had been conferred on an exporter by its government, Commerce must adjust the calculation of the parallel AD duty to avoid double counting the economic impact of the subsidy.  Even where the export subsidy finding was based on “adverse facts available” (AFA) because of non-cooperation by the foreign government, the mandatory language of the AD statute (using the word “shall”) requires the adjustment. Commerce cannot refuse to make the statutory adjustment as punishment, in order to induce the foreign government to cooperate in future cases. The Court’s decision is significant in light of the number of cases in which there are parallel AD and export subsidy determinations involving the application of AFA.  For more information, contact us at

Department of Commerce Proposes Major Changes to Antidumping Regulations

August 2020

The U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, recently published proposed amendments to several provisions of its regulations governing the procedures in antidumping (AD) and countervailing (anti-subsidy) (CVD) cases. The Department’s notice is found here. These proposed amendments would substantially revise its procedures and administration of new shipper reviews, scope inquiries, and anti-circumvention inquiries. If enacted, these would be the most significant amendments to the Department’s AD/CVD regulations since they were first promulgated in 1997. The Department has opened a period of public comments on the proposed amendments, which will end on September 14, 2020. For more information or assistance, please contact us at

© 2020 Law Office of Neil Ellis PLLC

5335 Wisconsin Avenue, NW

Suite 440

Washington, DC 20015


Telephone: 202.258.5421

Your use of this web site is subject to the following terms and conditions. By accessing this web site, you acknowledge that you have read and accept these terms and conditions.


Attorney Advertising  

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. 



No Legal Advice or Attorney-Client Relationship: These materials have been prepared by the Law Office of Neil Ellis PLLC (the Firm) for informational purposes and are not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. You should not act upon this information without seeking advice from a lawyer licensed in your own state or country. Do not send us confidential information until you speak with a member of the Firm and receive  authorization to send that information to us. Providing information to the Firm (via e-mail links on this Web site or otherwise) will not create an attorney-client relationship in the absence of an express agreement by the Firm to create such a relationship, and will not prevent the Firm from representing someone else in connection with the matter in question or a related matter.


Links to Third-Party Resources: Third-party resources that can be accessed with hypertext links from this web site are not under the control of the Firm, and the Firm is not responsible for the contents of any of these third-party resources. The third-party hypertext links presented on this site are provided for your convenience only. The inclusion of any link on this site does not imply any recommendation, approval or endorsement of that site by the Firm.


Limitation of Liability: Your use of this web site is at your own risk. The materials presented on this site may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. These materials may be changed, improved, or updated without notice. The Firm is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the content of this site or for damages arising from the use or performance of this site under any circumstances.