A judgment issued on July 24, 2019 by the 21st Federal Civil Court in the Federal District dismissed a challenge presented against the Brazilian Secretary of Foreign Trade’s decision to not renew an antidumping duty applied on Brazilian importation of milk powder from New Zealand and the European Union. The request was presented on a writ of mandamus filed by the Rural Trade Union of Leopoldina, the Rural Trade Union of Juiz De Fora, the Rural Trade Union of Muriaé, the “Associação Dos Criadores De Girolando Sem Fronteiras”, and the “Cooperativa Agropecuária de Volta Grande”. They claimed that beyond causing negative impacts to the Brazilian industry of milk power, the decision was issued illegally, since the Secretary of Foreign Trade did not have the legal mandate to terminate an antidumping duty.
According to the judgment, renewing an antidumping duty is an economic policy decision, which follows the technical criteria established in the Agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and not a constitutional right of the domestic industry. The measure had been in place for 18 years, which was pointed out by the decision. This harmed the possibility of assessing whether imports would cause more harm to the domestic industry than benefit to the downstream customers of the product. The decision further emphasizes that the Secretary of Foreign Trade did not terminate the antidumping duty, whose legal validity expired after five years, yet rather decided not to apply for a new measure, a decision within its legal mandate. Finally, the Court stated that the Brazilian industry is allowed to file a request for a new antidumping duty, if imports continue causing negative impacts to the producers.
Although no appeal has been filed challenging the decision so far, the judgment also is not final. Furthermore, parallel to the judicial dispute, the Brazilian government is studying the possibility of protecting the milk industry by other means, such as increasing the product’s importation taxes.