By Rosenberg, Jim
Editor & Publisher
For reasons it will not disclose, Goss Graphic Systems wants to remove U.S. antidumping duties from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries presses.
In the midst of a "liquidity crunch" that delayed projects and sent it to a U.S. court for bankruptcy protection, Goss petitioned another branch of the government ostensibly to help Mitsubishi. If the government agrees, Mitsubishi could save tens of millions in duties believed related to a major press installation at The Washington Post. Ironically, Mitsubishi outbid Goss for that very project in 1995, which in turn led Goss - then owned by Rockwell International - to seek protection from the government against alleged dumping.
To observers and competitors in the printing business, Goss' move appears to portend some kind of deal between the two printing press makers. Neither, however, would address that question. Nor would anyone involved admit that the installation at issue was that at The Washington Post, the only North American site that fits the description used by Goss in its petition to remove the duties.
"We can't comment on any Department of Commerce investigations," said Barbara L. Gora, Goss' marketing director. "That would be inappropriate."
At Mitsubishi press sales affiliate, MLP U.S.A. Inc., Lincolnshire, Ill., Executive Vice President Takishi Uichi said he is unaware of "what is going on on the newspaper side. I don't know what Goss is up to." Though closely involved in the Post sale while still based in Japan, Uichi said his "assignment changed dramatically" after arriving in the United States, where he is "totally involved with the commercial press business."
"There's little room for doubt it's anything other than The Washington Post system," said Yoshihiro Saito, a lawyer for Tokyo Kikai Seisakusho Ltd. (TKS), a Mitsubishi and Goss competitor in Japan and the United States. Respondents to the original action, said the attorney, who is with Seattle-based Perkins Coie LLP, "suspect a behind-the-scenes deal between Mitsubishi Heavy and Goss."
Goss made the request in a letter to the Commerce Department in late May. In late July, the Commerce Department made public the Goss request, just days before the company announced it was filing for bankruptcy.
TKS' Saito speculated that Mitsubishi may be looking to the international trade equivalent of an out-of-court settlement by paying Goss to drop its support for duties rather than paying the duties to the U.S. Customs Service. Saito said that payment, though substantial, could prove less than what the government might impose. Hence, Goss gets money, which it needs, and Mitsubishi may end up paying less to Goss than it would have had to fork over to Uncle Sam.
Saito wonders if such an arrangement doesn't skirt the purpose of antidumping law, but he concedes that such deals are not illegal. "It's kind of a new thing - part of the current controversy on trade law," he said. "If this is condoned in this case, it could become practice," leading domestic producers to file "frivolous" complaints.
The duties on German and Japanese doublewide presses resulted from Commerce Department and International Trade Commission investigations undertaken when Goss' predecessor company, Rockwell Graphic Systems, complained in 1996 that foreign manufacturers were selling presses in the United States below fair market value. …