US to investigate phosphate imports from Russia, Morocco

Author: Julia Meehan

2020/07/20

LONDON (ICIS)--The US' Department of Commerce has announced the initiation of new countervailing duty (CVD) investigations to determine whether producers of phosphate fertilizers in Morocco and Russia are receiving unfair subsidies.

On 26 June, Mosaic announced that it was filing petitions with Commerce and the US International Trade Commission (USITC) to initiate the investigation.

CVDs, also known as anti-subsidy duties, are trade import duties imposed under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to neutralise the negative effects of subsidies.

In these CVD investigations, Commerce will aim to determine whether Moroccan and Russian producers of phosphate fertilizers are receiving unfair government subsidies, it said on Monday.

DAP, MAP imports into the US
(2019; unit: tonnes)

DAP % market share MAP % market share
Morocco 696,235 60 1,154,119 61
Russia 300,538 26 442,356 31

Source: ICIS supply and demand database

For Morocco, there are eight alleged subsidy programs, including loan programs, tax programs, less than adequate remuneration programs, and a creditworthiness allegation related to OCP Group.

For Russia, there are eight alleged subsidy programs, including less than adequate remuneration programs, tax programs, and a loan program.

If the USITC was to determine that unfairly subsidised US imports of phosphate fertilizers from Morocco and/or Russia did materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the US industry, the Department of Commerce would impose duties on the amount of imports found to have had unfair subsidisation.

According to Commerce, 2019 imports of phosphate fertilizers from the countries under investigation were approximately valued at $729m for Morocco, and $299m for Russia.

At the same time, the USITC will conduct its own investigations into whether the country's industry and its workforce are being injured by such imports.

The USITC is set to make its preliminary determinations by 10 August.

"If the ITC preliminarily determines that there is a reasonable indication of material injury or threat of material injury, then Commerce’s investigations will continue, with the preliminary determinations scheduled for 21 September, unless this deadline is extended," said Commerce.

Final determinations are scheduled for 7 December, but this date may be extended.

"The strict enforcement of US trade law is a primary focus of the [President Donald] Trump Administration," said Commerce.

"Since the beginning of the current Administration, Commerce has initiated 266 new AD [anti-dumping] and CVD investigations – a 241% increase from the comparable period in the previous Administration."

Front page picture source: US International Trade Administration