The U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously ruled that there is a "reasonable indication" that malleable iron pipe fittings from China sold in the United States at less than fair value have injured or threatened to injure the domestic industry.

"This vote is very encouraging in our fight against the illegally dumped fittings from China, a fight we have every intention of winning," said Tom Gleason, vice president of marketing and sales for Ward Manufacturing.

Ward and Anvil International filed their petition on Oct. 30, 2002. The respondent is B&K Industries, an importer of the Chinese fittings.

This is the second suit filed by the two fittings manufacturers. The first suit regarding the dumping of nonmalleable cast-iron fittings was filed early last year and the ITC voted unanimously for the two manufacturers ("U.S. Rules Unanimously On China Dumping Fittings," June PM 2002).

With two active suits under way, legal costs have been high for both companies, Gleason said. In addition, Ward has lost 200 employees, while Anvil has lost 400.

He added that both types of Chinese fittings were sold in Home Depot and Lowe's, and now have flooded the wholesale market. The ITC, in its written decision, found that there is a "likelihood of substantially increased imports" of Chinese fittings into the United States: the period from 1999 to 2001 saw a 7.9 percent increase in imports, while 2002 saw a 45.8 percent increase.

"The domestic industry will likely continue to lose significant sales volume to lower-priced subject imports in a significant adverse impact on the domestic industry," the decision noted.

A preliminary decision for the new suit isn't expected until April or May, with the final determination in October or November. A final decision on the first suit is expected soon.