Wood Groups Take Sides in Hardwood Plywood Antidumping DebateWASHINGTON — Wood industry groups are taking sides over the hardwood plywood antidumping petition against China. Filed Sept. 27 with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission, the petition by the Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood documents antidumping and countervailing duty margins in excess of 300 percent.

Both the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn. and the International Wood Products Assn. have sided with the American Alliance for Hardwood Plywood (AAHP) in stating their opposition to the antidumping petition. According to a news release, at the Oct. 18 ITC hearing, KCMA Executive Vice President Richard Titus said that the characteristics of the hardwood plywood imported from China are not available from domestic manufacturers, and a proposed tariff could shift production of finished cabinets overseas where the plywood would still be available.

According to the Marketwire release, Titus stated, “If our members are cut off from access to a large supply of essential raw materials, which is likely to happen if the proposed tariff is approved, it would have a huge negative impact on our industry. The bottom line is that our industry is able to produce a very competitively priced product in the marketplace for cabinetry and we are part of the global economy."

Claiming that the proposed sanctions would cost jobs, hurt the woodworking industry and not eliminate international competition, said Brent McClendon, IWPA’s executive vice president, said in a statement, “The evidence is overwhelming: efforts to cripple competition with government sanctions always result in devastating unintended consequences. This shortsighted tactical maneuver to create shortages through the exploitation of antidumping and countervailing duty laws is bad for the U.S. economy, American consumers, and even the domestic hardwood industry itself.”

In opposition to the IWPA's and KCMA's positions, Kip Howlett, president of the Hardwood Plywood Veneer Assn. posted a blog on the association’s website in support of the petition filed by the Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood (CFTHP). In his blog, Howlett says: the U.S. hardwood plywood manufacturing capacity over the last 5 years has been reduced by over 20% with plant closures caused by the housing depression and rising imports; capacity utilization dropped from 66% in 2002 to less than 45% of that diminished capacity; hardwood plywood imports from China grew from $389 million in 2009 to $576 million in 2011; and over the last 3 years in a U.S. market decimated by the housing depression, Chinese hardwood plywood imports continued to grow from 56% share in 2009 to 63% in 2011.

“Trade laws protect the rule of law to level the playing field and insure fair play,” Howlett states.”The U.S. industry produces a certified quality; sustainably produced product from America’s beautiful temperate hardwood forests, the world’s greatest. Favorable resolution will help create more American jobs and conserve a unique natural resource. America’s hardwood plywood industry can compete when everyone plays by the rules.”

Hardwood plywood is used in a variety of products including furniture, cabinetry and components. Preliminary determination in the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations will be made by the ITC by Nov. 13, with the ITC’s views due at the Department of Commerce by Nov. 19.

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