The wood products industry has been heavily impacted by imports of goods from China for several years, and a group of kitchen cabinet manufacturers are finally doing something about it. On March 6, 2019 the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA) initiated one of the largest trade cases ever filed against China at the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC). Filed by Wiley Rein, LLP, the AKCA is standing up for more than 250,000 American workers across the industry in the United States. As a result of China's manipulation and unfair trade practices in kitchen cabinet and bath vanity production, Chinese imports of kitchen cabinets into the United States are up by more than 75 percent since 2015 and threaten our $9.5 billion American industry.
"China has manipulated global production and captured a large and growing portion of the market, manufacturing dumped and subsidized products, and has taken jobs away from hardworking Americans," says Tim Brightbill, chief counsel for the AKCA and partner at Wiley Rein. "Today's filing at Commerce and the ITC demonstrates an important first step in stopping the surge of dumped and subsidized Chinese cabinet products coming into the United States."
"Our cases aim to stand up to China's cheating and level the playing field for American workers and their families, as we fight to protect an iconic American industry," says Stephen Wellborn, Director of Product and Research Development at Wellborn Cabinet Inc., a family owned business. "Now is the time to stand up for American kitchen cabinet workers."
If the Department of Commerce (DOC) makes an affirmative finding in the investigations, and if the ITC determines that dumped and/or unfairly subsidized Chinese imports of wooden cabinets and vanities are causing injury to domestic manufacturers, duties would be imposed on the imports. The alleged dumping margins for China range from 177.36 to 262.18 percent, according to the DOC. Final determinations would be made by the end of this year.
This mirrors the antidumping and countervailing duties case initiated against importers of hardwood plywood from China back in 2017. The ITC activated tariffs of nearly 200% on hardwood plywood imports and ruled that the industry had been materially injured by reason of dumped and subsidized imports from China.
And now the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is cracking down on attempts to evade the duties on hardwood plywood products. According to the agency’s Twitter feed, CBP identified more than $600,000 in duties owed on merchandise that was mis-classified as ready-to-assemble cabinetry instead of hardwood plywood panels.
“When given a level playing field and a fair shot, American manufacturing can stand up for itself and stand up for its workers,” explained Bill Allen, President, Showplace Cabinetry, in a recent piece for Fox News. “I can’t emphasize enough that hardworking employee-owners are not afraid of nor against free trade. We are simply engaging in this action to fight for fair trade and insisting that the existing rules of international law are followed by the Chinese.”