Photo: AFP/Jim Watson
Photo: AFP / Jim Watson

The US Commerce Department said Thursday it has deferred a determination in an antidumping duty investigation on aluminum foil from China, as well as results of a related review of China’s non-market economy (NME) status.

The Agency said in a statement that rulings on both issues will come next month:

The Department intends to issue its preliminary determination in this investigation, including a decision on China’s NME status, no later than November 30, 2017.  A final determination will be made 75 days after this preliminary decision, unless postponed at a later date.

Under the legal terms of its accession to the World Trade Organization, China has been subject to a special presumption that it is a so-called “non-market economy.” Following the expiration of that clause last December, the US commenced a procedure to determine whether China is still a non-market economy under domestic US law.

China insists that it should have been automatically accorded market economy status following the clause’s expiration. The US and the European Union both disagree.

The deferral comes after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ recent visit to China and right before Trump’s visit to China early next month. Pressure has been building for the two countries to make progress on contentious trade issues after trade talks held recently in Washington failed to produce even so much as a joint statement.

The move also comes during the highly headline-sensitive period leading up to China’s national congress this month.