Argentine Beekeepers' Magazine



Administrative Review of Anti Dumping Sanctions against honey from Argentina, Brazil, India and Vietnam in the United States

December 22nd, 2023

Versión en Castellano

(ESPACIO APICOLA, December 22nd, 2023) The United States Department of Commerce (DOC) began this administrative review last August 29. The DOC is checking the performance of the honey exports of sanctioned countries to the United States during a period of 18 months between the application of the preliminary sanction from November 23rd of 2021 to May 30th of 2023.


In the case of honey from Argentina, beyond the initial measures regarding NEXCO's lawsuit before the United States Court of International Trade and the changes in the chosen market of reference to compare the Honey export prices of ACA, which we describe and analyze in our last magazine (Espacio Apícola nº 141), the investigation continues its course in what at times seems like something already seen and experienced, a true déjà-vu.

As the DOC could not get a Cost of Production (COP) for the investigated companies in the other three countries the DOC arrives at a final determination based on the price paid to the producers declared by the exporter (as in Brazil and India cases), or due to political and business agreements very far from accounting technicality (Vietnam case). To Argentine companies the DOC continues to ask for an exhaustive analysis of production costs. A questionnaire of about thirty pages sent to beekeepers from ACA and NEXCO, which is indexed by the ACCESS* platform with the barcode 4477501-01, asks for this kind of response level: "For each of the following cost elements, describe how you used your normal cost and financial accounting records to compute the reported per-unit COP figures:
  1. bees (including workers, breeder queens, production queens, and drones);
  2. food (e.g., sugar solution) and other direct materials;
  3. internal taxes (including VAT) and import duties on material purchases. State whether you were exempted from paying or were rebated these taxes and duties on imported raw materials used to produce the merchandise under consideration;
  4. direct labor (including family labor);
  5. variable production overhead (provide a list of the cost categories that comprise your submitted variable overhead cost figures);
  6. fixed production overhead (provide a list of the cost categories that comprise your submitted fixed overhead cost figures);
  7. research and development costs;
  8. amounts paid to third parties for honey processing;
  9. general and administrative (G&A) expenses (provide a list of the cost categories that comprise your submitted G&A costs); and,
  10. net interest expense (including a list of all interest income and expense items and other financing amounts used to compute monthly net interest expense).
These details do not appear in the accounting of the vast majority of small, medium and even large primary producers who in Argentina are within the formal economy system but under a regime called "mono tribute" according to the level of their annual turnover. Still, many companies with six or eight employees, who are registered in the general regime, who make monthly and/or annual sworn statements do not have a detail of data and analysis close to what these questionnaires ask for.

The United States Department of Commerce DOC also requests that these forms, sent to companies on December 12 at 1:55 PM, where prepared by beekeepers, translated into English and presented with a certified signature on the ACCESS platform before 5 PM Eastern Time on January 2, 2024.

On the other hand, the lawyers of petitioners are not far behind. Needing a few extra dollars for the holidays, they bill a few hours of service to their clients, expressing themselves dissatisfied with the responses received! and they ask to honey exporting companies, for example, to explain and justify the successive changes in freight values that, in the whole period of 18 months of this review, include months of the full COVID-19 pandemic (end 2021), where freight prices rise 10 times from pre-pandemic values as it is well known, until this year 2023 where prices returned almost to pre-pandemic values.

* ACCESS is the DOC's virtual "Entry Desk" where all documents from an antidumping or countervailing duty process are sent, and where the public versions of them can be downloaded.


The review of the situation of Indian companies is developing slowly, with complaints and comments from the petitioners to the sections of each questionnaire answered by the companies. Since the United States Court of International Trade rejected an intervention requested by the petitioners (subscribers can read this in: Espacio Apícola 141), it is to be expected that their claims will be more incisive and relevant than the explanation of the variation in freight costs...


Minamel's strategy that we published in our analysis last November (subscribers see: Espacio Apícola 141) does not seem to have found the channel expected by the Castagna and Diamante families. At first, the DOC refused to initiate the requested Change of Circumstances Review (CCR) because according the regulation there are not enough reasons to justify iniciate CCR before the 24 months after the date of sanctions. On the other hand, the petitioners do find it appropriate to initiate the CCR because they consider that Minamel is heir to the status of Apiarios Diamante and in this sense, Minamel deposits should be made according Diamante's tariff for all the honey exported by Minamel during the period of the Administrative Review in progress...

Apiarios Diamante received the maximum punitive tariff (83,72%) for adverse fact availables (AFA) then Apiarios Diamante has been left out of consideration to determine the average tariffs for honey from all other companies that were benefited for the low tariff imposed on Melbras (7,89%) (subscribers see: Espacio Apícola No. 135). Although we have not read it in the published documents, a Change of Circumstances Review (CCR) could enable the petitioners to request a new average percentage for the other companies?... The discussion is in progress. Will the Biden administration's greater sympathy and interests for Lula and his Brazil come to have an influence on this discussion?


Unlike the Minamel case, Vietnamese companies were granted the benefit of a Changed Circumstances Review (CCR) even though they were not duly endorsed in the relevant administrative areas of the same DOC... On October 30, the Office of "Enforcement and Compliance" conducting this administrative review published in the United States Federal Register that the DOC was initiating a CCR of AD sanctions against raw honey from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to examine whether Vietnam remains a non-market economy (NME) country for the purposes of anti-dumping law enforcement.

Vietnam chose this scenario to request the change of status before the DOC where there would be countless folders of much greater economic importance in its commercial relationship with the United States than that of its honey exports.

The publication in the Federal Register begins by stating the background by saying that: "On September 8, 2023, the Government of Vietnam (GOV) submitted a letter requesting that Commerce conduct a review of Vietnam's status as an NME country within the context of a CCR of the AD order on raw honey from Vietnam. In the CCR Request, the GOV describes changes that have occurred in Vietnam in recent years as they relate to each of the statutory criteria Commerce uses to evaluate a country's market economy status". And they go on describing all the arguments of the Vietnamese government.

This aroused the reaction of different production chains in the United States, initially those linked to the fish industry, which refused to consider Vietnam as a "Market economy" and they presented an extensive document to the DOC on the matter (indexed in ACCESS under the no. 4469168-02.pdf).

"The U.S. Department of Commerce and the Biden Administration have reportedly pledged to grant market economy status to Vietnam for antidumping proceedings".

-begins the document prepared by the consulting firm Wiley Rein LLP-.This generated a high-level discussion. Alexander Hammer, Director of the Policy Office of the Economic Analysis Unit of the International Trade Administration of the DOC and the Economist of that unit Chien-Min Yang responded to Wiley, a renowned international consulting firm based in Washington in its brief against the office of "Enforcement and Compliance" of the same DOC that conducts the execution and ongoing review of antidumping actions. Hammer noted that the consulting firm should raise the issue on the Federal Regulatory Office's eRelemaking initiative portal.

As well as to reduce the DOC sanctions in 2022, the government of Vietnam obtained the support of the sausage producers of Indiana, a senator and a couple of congressmen (subscribers see: Espacio Apícola 135 page 33), which in the jargon is known as "lobbying", now Senators James David Vance (Ohio), Joshua David Haley (Missouri) and Thomas Bryant Cotton (Arkansas) sent a letter to the DOC complaining about how serious it means to recognize a treatment of "Market Economy" to the communist government of Vietnam, against the transformation claims declared by the Hanoi government and published by DOC officials in the Federal Register as the framework for the CCR initiated.

The senators highlight that the Hanoi government largely controls the banking system and its state-owned companies account for a third of the GDP, that there is forced labor, child labor and an its economy is rife with corruption and graft, an add: "Vietnam shares an 806-mile border and a difficult history with China. Trade concessions are unlikely to substantively change Vietnam's strategic calculus in the region. Indeed, Vietnam already enjoys a $114 billion annual trade surplus-the third largest surplus of any nation with the United States-yet, Vietnam still actively collaborates with China and is one of the largest sources of transshipped Chinese goods" (ACCESS 4477861-01.pdf). Although the transshipment of goods is accepted throughout the world, it also implies a risk to guarantee the traceability of the products and the possibility of "triangulation" (in Spanish "triangulación" means to sell a third party's product as your own), a highly feared situation particularly in the honey market between China and the United States.

Until now, the DOC has entangled only the Argentine companies with detailed questionnaires of production costs of beekeepers, middlemans and honey exporters, those from the other three countries until now seem to enjoy other standards. Although it is very positive that the permeability of the US bureaucracy to its power groups is made transparent, the result so far would not only harm the Argentine producers, but also the promoters of this misguided demand.
It will be an austere Christmas for many Argentine beekeepers but at least with the best and genuine honey from the new harvest.
Fernando Esteban

Information generated by "Espacio Apícola" the Argentine Beekeepers' Magazine