U.S. Probes in Final Phase on Chinese Cabinet Imports Case

WASHINGTON, DC — With government rulings imminent, a pair of industry coalitions at odds over potential duties on Chinese wooden cabinet and vanity imports testified last month before U.S. trade officials conducting final-phase investigations into the landmark unfair-trade case.

Representatives of both the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA) and the American Coalition of Cabinet Distributors (ACCD) testified during a lengthy Feb. 20 “final injury” hearing before the five-member U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), scheduled to issue a final ruling on March 24 in the contentious, months-long trade case.

Both the AKCA and ACCD have lobbied heavily for U.S. trade officials to rule in their favor in the case, initiated before the ITC and the U.S. Commerce Dept. by the AKCA, a 50-member coalition of U.S. cabinet suppliers closely aligned with the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association. The ACCD – composed of distributors, dealers, contractors, installers and importers of ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets – has been pushing back forcefully against the unfair-trade petition, which mirrors similar cases involving ceramic tile, quartz surfaces and other kitchen/bath products.

Last year’s AKCA’s filing charges government-subsidized Chinese manufacturers and exporters with unfair-trade practices – including the “dumping” of wooden cabinets and vanities into the U.S. at less-than-fair market value – and seeks the imposition of stiff antidumping and countervailing duties on the imports, which include RTA units.

The AKCA has alleged that the unfair-trade practices pose an existential threat to the U.S. cabinet industry and jeopardizes some 250,000 American jobs. The ACCD has vigorously opposed the potential duties, characterizing the AKCA petition as a “cynical and opportunistic ploy” to “wipe out” the RTA segment, while 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.

The Commerce Dept. has already ruled affirmatively that Chinese exporters have dumped wooden cabinets and vanities in the U.S. and has instructed Customs and Border Protection agents to collect a wide range of trade duties from Chinese importers – a decision the AKCA has applauded.

According to the ACCD, however, Commerce Dept. rulings thus far “do not in any way suggest that imports of RTA cabinets and vanities from China are causing material injury to the made-to-order cabinet industry behind this petition.”

Both the Commerce Dept. and the ITC must issue affirmative final determinations of dumping and injury, respectively, for antidumping and countervailing duties to be imposed. If the determinations are not both affirmative, the investigations will be terminated, and no orders issued.

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