national-security 14 May 2020

US to investigate mobile crane imports as possible national security threat

The United States has identified mobile cranes as a critical industry because of their extensive use in national defence applications and other critical infrastructure and will begin an investigation into whether their imports threaten to impair national security, the US Department of Commerce has said.

‘We will conduct this review thoroughly and expeditiously,’ said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. ‘This investigation will help determine whether mobile cranes are being imported in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair U.S. national security.’

‘The Department of Homeland Security has identified mobile cranes as a critical industry because of their extensive use in national defense applications, as well as in critical infrastructure sectors,’ the Commerce Department said in the 6 May news release.

The decision to launch an investigation follows a petition filed by US producer, The Manitowoc Company, which alleges that increased imports of low-priced mobile cranes from Germany, Austria and Japan, and intellectual property infringement by foreign competition, have harmed the domestic mobile crane manufacturing industry.

Manitowoc claims that low-priced imports and IP infringement resulted in the closure of one of its two production facilities in the United States and eliminated hundreds of skilled manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin.

Manitowoc cites the US International Trade Commission’s (‘USITC’) Dataweb to note that imports of mobile cranes increased by 152% between 2014 and 2019, and a 2015 finding that a Chinese manufacturer misappropriated six trade secrets and infringed on a patent, resulting in the USITC banning the sale of a Chinese crane in the United States.

The investigation will be launched under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, whose purpose is to determine the effect of imports on national security.

The investigation will be conducted by the Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security and will provide the opportunity for public comment once the rule is posted in the Federal Register, the Commerce Department said.