Global Hardwood Plywood Trade Must Be Fair

By Roger Rutan | Posted: 11/09/2012 11:45AM


There’s little doubt that the hardwood plywood market in the United States has changed drastically over the past few years. The rise of imports from China has altered the landscape and put competitiveness on the back burner.

That’s why on Sept. 27, 2012, the Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood (CFTHP), an association of U.S. manufacturers of hardwood and decorative plywood, filed an unfair trade petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC), regarding hardwood and decorative plywood imports from China. Timber Products is a member of the Coalition.

It is the opinion of the Coalition that imports from China are sold in the United States at below market prices and are subsidized by the government of China. Our petition requests that the U.S. Government investigate these unfair trade practices and applyantidumping and countervailing duties on imports of hardwood plywood from China in order to restore competitive parity to the U.S. market.The Coalition submitted extensive data to support our petition.

In October, the Coalition presented oral testimony before International Trade Commission (ITC) examiners in Washington, DC.  Mike Clausen, vice president of hardwood plywood sales, testified on behalf of Timber Products Company. Four other industry members testified as well.

Timber Products can compete with any manufacturer in the world as long as the playing field is level. However, when Chinese manufacturers receive government subsidies and raw materials that come from suspect or illicit sources, the playing field is tilted toward Chinese manufacturers. They have exploited this advantage to increase their market share in the U.S., within a few short years, to above 50 percent.

Timber Products has imported hardwood plywood from China and other countries for more than 10 years through our international trading division, Timber Products Global. We believe that there is a place in the U.S. market for imported hardwood plywood from China. However, those imports must be produced and distributed fairly and in good faith at fair market prices in accordance with U.S. and global trade laws. 

Roger Rutan is vice president of sales and marketing at Timber Products Company, a manufacturer of hardwood plywood and decorative panels based in Springfield, OR.

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Ed Strahota    
Mendota, IL  |  November, 13, 2012 at 07:56 AM

Hello Roger, thank you for the excellent reporting on this topic. I was just recently communicating with a customer of ours in the Miami area, discussing the topic of imported Chinese plywood. When I had last visited him we were discussing the large volume of product on his floor consisting of imported plywood. I asked if he was buying any American hardwood plywood, and he said that he had quit buying basically because of price, that the whole area had shifted to this import product. So just yesterday I sent him the link to this article, and I thought his response was telling, he said: ". In my industry, all that would happen is that if the price of imported hardwoods go up, the kitchens ready to assemble that come from China will take over whatever little manufacturing we see now. In my estimates about one in four kitchens being sold in South Florida are already coming from China. Are they going to tax those as well and at the same time, of course not. Manufacturing of kitchens at domestic hardwood pricing will not compete with RTA kitchens from China. By the time they realize that, it will be a couple of more years and all the shops will have closed by then." These are insightful words, spoken from a person who is in the midst of the day-to-day workings in the industry. I wonder if you could address his concerns in a follow up article? I'd like to know what your perspective is on the broader topic. Thank you for all your efforts!


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