- Registration time
- Last login
- Online time
- 0 Hour
- Reading permission
Chinese Furniture Exporters Face New U.S. Tariffs |
June 18 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Commerce Department slapped tariffs of as much as 198 percent on imported bedroom furniture from China, a decision that could cut the $1 billion a year of those imports and may raise prices for consumers.
Most of the largest exporters of furniture, representing 80 percent of U.S. imports, will pay tariffs of 24 percent or less, with 82 of the companies paying an 11 percent tariff, according to the Commerce Department.
``The duties could have been a whole lot worse,'' Mike Veitenheimer, a vice president for furniture retailer Bombay Co., which opposed the duties, said in an interview. Still, the thousands of companies not singled out will pay the 198 percent, and they ``are going to be put out of business.''
The tariffs begin next week. Today's decision is preliminary and there are still two more rulings needed to formalize the tax, which would last for five years or more.
The case is the largest trade dispute of its kind between the U.S. and China, and could spark a new round of complaints by manufacturers who say business has been hurt by cheap imports from China. Bassett Furniture Industries Inc., Stanley Furniture Co. and other U.S. producers support tariffs, arguing Chinese companies are selling their products at unfair discounts, and the preliminary decision today backed up their claim.
``The illegal dumping by the Chinese has devastated the U.S. bedroom industry,'' said John D. Bassett, chief executive of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company.
Since President George W. Bush took office three years ago, some 35,000 wood furniture workers, or 28 percent of the workforce, have lost their jobs, the U.S. companies say. Opponents of the protection, including nearly half the U.S. furniture industry, say that the tariffs won't restore U.S. workers jobs, although they might help shift production from China to Vietnam or other Asian nations.
Those are part of the 2.7 million manufacturing jobs that have vanished, which has touched off a backlash against Chinese products, including brassieres, hand trucks and auto parts.
Democrats, including presidential candidate John Kerry, have argued that the Bush administration hasn't done enough to protect against unfair trade from China, leading to the growth in the trade deficit to a record $124 billion last year.
The Bush administration said that today's ruling shows that it's cracking down on trade it labels illegal.
``We've had a lot of Chinese cases and we expect to have more,'' said James Jochum, assistant Secretary of Commerce for Import Administration, who overseas the process of levying these duties. ``We're busy here enforcing our trade laws.''
China has denied unfairly selling its goods.
``We sold furniture to the U.S. based on fair market practices,'' Cao Yingchao, secretary general of China National Furniture Association in Beijing, said in an interview before the decision was announced. ``We deny any charge that we sold our wooden furniture in the U.S. at below cost.''
He said he would urge Chinese producers to appeal.
Bedroom furniture imports from China increased 121 percent from 2000 to 2002, and another 54 percent in the first six months of last year from 2002. Furniture makers, such as Bassett, Stanley and Hooker Furniture Corp. say that increase threatens to put them out of business.
U.S. retailers such as Bombay, which operates more than 400 furniture stores in the U.S. and Canada, and furniture makers with operations in China, such as Furniture Brands International Inc., the largest U.S. furniture maker, oppose the case.
``It's likely to cost consumers more, because in essence a tax has been placed on furniture,'' Veitenheimer said. The threat of the duties on Chinese products had already made importers look to other sources for the furniture, he said.
Import of furniture from China and other low-wage countries rose to 33 percent in 2001 from 1 percent in 1972, according to a study released in April by Andrew Bernard, an economist at Dartmouth University. They are likely to increase to 57 percent by 2011, the paper said.
There are still two more decisions, a final ruling by the Commerce Department and another by the independent U.S. International Trade Commission, that U.S. producers need to win in order to get the duties imposed on Chinese goods for a full five years.
Even before this case was filed, the Chinese had levied their own duties on fiber-optic materials, including those made by Corning Inc.
``It has not escaped China's attention that al lot of their companies have faced dumping duties,'' said Warren Connelly, a lawyer and former trade official who has represented other importers targeted by these dumping duties. ``It certainly appears that they are learning the rules, and are making use of their rights to target the U.S.''