Commerce rules in favor of U.S. cabinetmakers, issues final duties on Chinese imports
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Commerce has issued final duty determinations on Chinese imports of wooden cabinets and vanities - marking the end of a chapter in a nearly year-long ordeal. 
The total antidumping and countervailing duties are as follows: Dalian Meisen 269.91%, Foremost 122.1%, Ancientree 13.33%, with all others 58.89%. This means that almost all Chinese manufacturers will now face a combined AD/CVD cash deposit rate of about 59%.
"Today's final determinations by the Department of Commerce mark a historic day for the American cabinet and vanity industry," said Wellborn Cabinets director of product development Stephen Wellborn. Wellborn is also a member of the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA), the group who began its petition against unfairly-traded Chinese imports in March 2019. "We thank Secretary Ross and the team at the Commerce Department for their leadership in standing up for American jobs. China is not playing by the rules and today's announcement will help level the playing field for American kitchen cabinet workers."


Exclusive: Stephen Wellborn comments on China cabinet import ruling

The domestic cabinet manufacturing industry could go the way of the U.S. furniture industry if strong steps are not taken to reverse the rising tide of cabinet imports from China.

"The final determinations rendered by the Commerce Department are a major step forward for the American kitchen cabinet industry," said Mark Trexler, President and CEO at AKCA member Master WoodCraft. "Our fight is still not over, and we are hopeful for a positive outcome at the International Trade Commission in late March."

In October, the Department of Commerce issued preliminary antidumping duties ranging from 4.49 percent to 262.18 percent, with most Chinese producers facing antidumping duties of 39.25 percent. These antidumping duties are in addition to earlier countervailing duties averaging 16 percent, which have been in effect since August 2019. As a result of this final decision, cash deposits will continue to be required on all wooden cabinets and vanities imported from China.  
On March 6, 2019, the AKCA initiated one of the largest trade cases ever filed against Chinese imports at the International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce – a case which claims China's "manipulation and unfair trade practices" have resulted in a significant rise of the Chinese cabinetry imports - creating a threat to the estimated $9.6 billion American industry. 
The scope of the petition covers both face-frame and frameless cabinets, made of solid wood and composite panel construction, RTA cabinetry, cabinetry components including doors, drawers, back and end panels, as well as desks, shelves, and tables that are attached to or incorporated in the merchandise.


Distributor opinion: Some cabinetmakers are exploiting trade law for their own gain

Sensing an opportunity, a handful of businesses in the U.S. cabinet industry are trying to exploit tensions by using U.S. trade law to further their own interests. Workers across the U.S. could end up paying the price.

The petition was fought every step of the way by the American Coalition of Cabinet Distributors, a group made up of U.S. distributors, dealers, contractors, installers and importers, which claims imposition of the proposed duties could significantly impact the RTA option from the U.S. marketplace. They say RTA companies serve a niche demand for RTA cabinets in the U.S. that prioritize limited selection and short lead times over customized products that take many weeks to complete. 

They also claimed some cabinetmakers were seeking to exploit U.S. trade law for their own financial gain.

The AKCA targeted RTA importers on their tariff exclusion applications.

The fight isn't totally over though. While Commerce determines amount of duties, the ITC will determine injury and severe threat to the industry in March.

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About the author
Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected].