(Adds U.S. companies that initiated investigation)
WASHINGTON, May 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday announced a final determination that producers and exporters of certain glass containers from China received countervailable subsidies ranging from 25.5% to 320.5%, paving the way for potential duties.
The department, which is also investigating dumping of glass containers from China, said imports of glass containers from China were valued at an estimated $370.8 million in 2018. It is slated to make a final determination in the dumping case on Sept. 11.
The independent U.S. International Trade Agency is expected to make a final determination of injury to U.S. manufacturers on or about June 25. If it upholds the determination, Commerce said it would issue a countervailing duty order.
Commerce launched its investigation in October after a petition was filed by the American Glass Packaging Coalition, whose members are Anchor Glass Container Corp and Ardagh Glass, Inc.
The department said it has dramatically stepped up enforcement of U.S. trade laws under U.S. President Donald Trump, initiating 254 new anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations. That marks a 234% increase from the comparable period in the previous administration, the department said.
The Trump administration has sought to address other trade disputes with China through bilateral negotiations that led to the signing of a Phase 1 trade agreement on Jan. 15.
U.S. President Donald Trump has raised questions about the future of that agreement given a spike in tensions between Washington and Beijing over China's handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Commerce defines a countervailable subsidy as financial assistance from a foreign government that benefits the production of goods from foreign companies and is limited to specific enterprises or industries, or is contingent upon export performance or the use of domestic goods over imported goods.
In this investigation, Commerce assigned preliminary subsidy rates of 27.10% and 25.46% for two Chinese companies, Guangdong Huaxing Glass Co and Qixia Changyu Glass Co, respectively.
Thirty-eight companies that failed to respond to Commerce’s requests for information received a rate of 320.53%, with all over Chinese producers and exporters calculated to have a subsidy rate of 26.28%, it said.
The merchandise covered by the investigation includes glass jars, bottle, flasks and similar containers, with a nominal capacity of 0.059 liters (2.0 fluid ounces) up to and including 4.0 liters (135.256 fluid ounces). (Reporting by Andrea Shalal Editing by Chris Reese and Chizu Nomiyama)