Cabinet group argues in international court against import ruling

Betsy Natz, CEO of the KCMA, and attorney Luke Meisner in front of the court building.

Representatives from the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA) participated June 24 in an oral argument before Judge Lisa W. Wang at the U.S. Court of International Trade to challenge a determination that a U.S. importer had not evaded import duties.

According to a report by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Associations, the U.S. Customs & Border Protection agency initiated an investigation after the AKCA alleged that Scioto Valley Woodworking Inc. (db Valleywood Cabinetry) was importing Chinese cabinets that had been transshipped through Malaysia by its sister company, Alno Industry SDN BHD.

Transshipping is the shipment of goods or containers to an intermediate destination and then to another destination while claiming the intermediate destination as the country of origin.

The purpose, the KCMA report said, was to evade the payment of antidumping and countervailing duty orders on Wooden Cabinets and Vanities and Components thereof from China.

In the KCMA news report, during the investigation, Alno admitted to transshipping Chinese cabinets to another U.S. customer, and Custom's Department officials had to decide was whether Alno had also transshipped additional Chinese cabinets to Scioto.

Customs officials reportedly traveled to Malaysia to verify company filings on their imports but officials allegedly met with resistance. and delayed in providing requested documents, failed to submit some documents entirely, deleted relevant emails, and neglected to disclose that Alno had an additional warehouse full of Chinese cabinets destined for transshipment to the United States. 

The Customs representatives initially reached a "determination of evasion." However, as part of an internal agency review process, that determination was reversed finding that there was “no evidence” that Alno and Scioto had evaded the payment of duties.

At the court hearing, the AKCA’s lawyer, Luke A. Meisner, argued that the Court should remand R&R’s negative determination. The Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA) statute requires that a foreign exporter cooperate with Customs to the “best of its ability.” However, Meisner said that R&R measured Alno’s conduct using a standard that falls far below the “best of its ability” standard. 

"If left to stand, R&R’s weakening of the standard of conduct will destroy the incentive for foreign exporters to cooperate with Customs in future EAPA investigations," according to the report. "This will prevent EAPA investigations from serving as a tool to combat evasion – ultimately eroding the relief that Congress intended for the antidumping and countervailing duty orders to provide to domestic industries impacted by unfair trade."

Meisner also explained to the Court how R&R ignored or misunderstood substantial evidence demonstrating that evasion had taken place.


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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).