What Is an Anti-Dumping Duty?

An anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value. Dumping is a process where a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges in its own home market. For protection, many countries impose stiff duties on products they believe are being dumped in their national market, undercutting local businesses and markets.

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Anti-Dumping Duty

How an Anti-Dumping Duty Works

In the United States, the International Trade Commission (ITC), an independent government agency, imposes anti-dumping duties based upon investigations and recommendations from the Department of Commerce. Duties often exceed 100% of the value of the goods. They come into play when a foreign company is selling an item significantly below the price at which it is being produced. Part of the logic behind anti-dumping duties is to save domestic jobs, but they can also lead to higher prices for domestic consumers and reduce the international competition of domestic companies producing similar goods.

To protect local businesses and markets, many countries impose stiff duties on products they believe are being dumped in their national market.

The World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) operates a set of international trade rules. Part of the organization's mandate is the international regulation of anti-dumping measures. The WTO does not regulate the actions of companies engaged in dumping. Instead, it focuses on how governments can—or cannot—react to dumping. In general, the WTO agreement allows governments to "act against dumping where there is genuine (material) injury to the competing domestic industry." In other cases, the WTO intervenes to prevent anti-dumping measures.

Key Takeaways

  • An anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value.
  • The World Trade Organization does not regulate the actions of companies engaged in dumping, but instead focuses on how governments can—or cannot—react to dumping.

This intervention is justified to uphold the WTO's free-market principles. Anti-dumping duties distort the market. Governments cannot normally determine what constitutes a fair market price for any good or service.

Practical Examples of Anti-Dumping Measures

In June 2015, American steel companies United States Steel Corp., Nucor Corp., Steel Dynamics Inc., ArcelorMittal USA, AK Steel Corp., and California Steel Industries filed a complaint with the Department of Commerce and the ITC alleging that China (and other countries) were dumping steel on the U.S. market and keeping prices unfairly low.

A year later, the United States, after a review and much public debate, announced that it would be imposing a 500% import duty on certain steel imported from China. In 2018, China filed a complaint with the WTO challenging the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump. The White House's trade agenda for 2019 said it would continue to use the WTO to challenge what it called unfair trading practices with China and other trading partners.