MUSCAT, MARch 8 - Oman’s authorities are understood to be preparing to mount a response to a recent “preliminary determination” made by the US Department of Commerce in its antidumping investigations centring on imports of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) sheet from the Sultanate. The United States is an important market for exports of Omani PET sheet, which is widely used for general packaging applications, including dairy items, and thermoforming food packaging applications. Around $200 million worth of Omani produced PET sheet was shipped to US markets in 2018. Almost all of this volume came from Salalah-based Octal Petrochemicals, one of the world’s largest producers of PET sheet for the global packaging industry.
On February 26, the US Commerce Department ruled that PET sheet imports from Oman, as well as South Korea, were violative of American antidumping laws. Dumping occurs when companies sell an imported product at less than fair value. The antidumping petition against the Sultanate’s PET exports was brought by three American PET manufacturers — Advanced Extrusions, Ex-Tech Plastics, and Multi-Plastics Extrusions. In issuing its preliminary determination, the US authorities calculated a preliminary dumping margin of 2.78 per cent for mandatory respondent Octal Petrochemicals, while assigning a preliminary dumping margin of 2.78 per cent to all other producers/exporters in the Sultanate. The Department of Commerce also assigned a preliminary dumping margin of 2.78 per cent to all other producers/exporters in Oman.
In contrast, preliminary dumping margins calculated for Korean PET exporters were considerably higher. Octal had previously rejected the antidumping claim, insisting that its exports to the US market are based on its “competitive cost structure”. In addition to mounting its own defence against antidumping charges, Octal also banks on legal and diplomatic assistance provided by the Omani government, represented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to forcefully push back against such claims.