WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. International Trade Commission has found that the domestic cabinet industry is being “materially injured” by Chinese imports of wooden cabinets and vanities – a ruling that puts an end to a divisive, landmark trade case with widespread implications for the kitchen and bath industry.
The unanimous ITC decision, announced this week, affirms a recent U.S. Commerce Dept. ruling that Chinese wooden cabinets and vanities have been subsidized and sold in the U.S. at less-than-fair market value, paving the way for trade officials to impose stiff antidumping and countervailing duty orders on the imports.
Preliminary antidumping and countervailing duties set last month by the Commerce Dept. are currently being collected on Chinese cabinet and vanity imports, but once the ITC orders are issued, trading penalties will be collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the final duty rates, which are higher for most Chinese manufacturers and U.S-based import firms. Almost all companies that import from China will face final combined AD/CVD cash deposit rates of approximately 59%. The duty orders, effective April 1, will remain in effect for a minimum of five years.
The long-awaited ITC decision represents “a major win for the American kitchen cabinet industry and our American workers,” according to Marsh Furniture Company President and COO Edwin Underwood, a member of the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA), a coalition of more than 50 manufacturers and other companies with ties to the U.S. cabinet market.
The AKCA last March initiated one of the largest trade cases ever filed against Chinese imports, a case charging government-subsidized Chinese manufacturers and exporters with unfair-trade practices – including the “dumping” of wooden cabinets, vanities and ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets. The AKCA’s unfair-trade petition had been vehemently opposed by the American Coalition of Cabinet Distributors (ACCD), an alliance of distributors, dealers, contractors, installers and importers of RTA units.
While the AKCA had alleged that Chinese unfair-trade practices posed an existential threat to the U.S. cabinet industry, the ACCD had characterized the AKCA claim as a “cynical and opportunistic ploy” to “wipe out” the RTA segment, claiming that the RTA products address a specific consumer need and serve a narrow niche demand, accounting for less than 10% of all U.S. cabinet sales, and therefore pose no competitive threat to domestic suppliers of stock, custom and semi-custom product lines.
Both sides have also sharply disputed the overall size of the U.S. cabinet market, as well as the market share of Chinese imports, and had lobbied heavily for U.S. trade officials to rule in their favor in the contentious, months-long trade case.
“This is an extremely important victory for the American kitchen cabinet industry and importantly our great American manufacturing workers,” said the AKCA, commending the final affirmative ITC ruling “as an important conclusion to a campaign to address unfairly traded Chinese imports of wooden cabinets and vanities.”
According to Mark Trexler, president and CEO of Master WoodCraft Cabinetry, the final ITC ruling “helps level the playing field for American kitchen cabinet workers and our great American manufacturing industry.
“We look forward to working with our federal enforcement agencies to ensure that China now plays by the rules,” Trexler said.