On March 6, 2019 the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA) initiated one of the largest trade cases ever filed against one country in US history. The Anti-Dumping / Countervailing Duty Petitions were filed at the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC) in response to China’s unfair trade practices, which threaten the survival of our $10 billion domestic kitchen cabinet industry that supports more than 250,000 American jobs.
One year later, in March 2020, the ITC voted in favor with a five to zero decision acknowledging that the domestic industry had in fact been injured by dumped and subsidized kitchen cabinets, vanities, and parts coming into the US from China. In February the U.S. Department of Commerce issued antidumping and countervailing duty final determinations including: Dalian Meisen 269.91%, Foremost 122.1%, Ancientree 13.33%, with all others 58.89%. The final order was filed in April and will remain in effect for a minimum of five years, at which time the ITC conduct a “sunset review” to evaluate the ADCVD decision. In addition, the DOC will conduct an annual review of the tariff rates beginning in April of 2021.
U.S. Senator Mike Rounds recently noted, “American businesses can compete with anyone in the world if they are given an opportunity. We must make certain our kitchen cabinet industry is on a level playing field with its global competitors.” The victory in this case will achieve just that. But what is next? How can the industry ensure that playing field remains level? Especially given the many instances of Chinese companies who evade the orders by transshipping products through other countries to avoid US tariffs. For example, the Hardwood Plywood industry won their case against China in 2017 and in May of this year U.S. Customs found that China illegally transshipped plywood through Vietnam.
The fight is not over for the kitchen cabinet industry. Chinese companies filed three appeals at the Court of International Trade on May 24, 2020 against the DOC’s final determinations and duty calculations. While this is typical in many trade cases, it will still be a lengthy and involved process to litigate appeals to their full conclusion. In addition, we will now need to police and address any suspected duty evasion practices.
“[This case] is a major win for the American kitchen cabinet industry and our American workers,” remarked Edwin Underwood, President and COO of Marsh Furniture Company. “This is an extremely important victory for the American kitchen cabinet industry and importantly our great American manufacturing workers. When given a level playing field, the American kitchen industry can compete with anyone in the world.”