A coalition of U.S. flooring firms is seeking tariff action by the U.S. Department of Commerce, alleging imported Chinese multilayered flooring is unfairly subsidized.

The Coalition for American Hardwood Parity (CAHP) — an industry group that includes Anderson Hardwood Floors, Award Hardwood Floors, Baker's Creek Wood Floors, From the Forest, Howell Hardwood Flooring, Mannington Mills, Nydree Flooring and Shaw Industries Group — is claiming that imports of multilayered (engineered) flooring "are sold in the United States at dumped prices, and that Chinese manufacturers have gained an unfair competitive advantage." The petition documents antidumping and countervailing duty margins in excess of 100 percent. It was filed Oct. 21 with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The CAHP said the petition is directed solely at China "since the unfairly traded imports from that country pose the intrinsic threat to this U.S. manufacturing industry." And while some of the petitioners themselves import product from China, the CAHP addresses this on its Website, usfloorparity.org, stating, "All things being equal, we would prefer to make the products in the U.S."

Instead, the group claims that over the last several years, China's share of the U.S. engineered flooring market has grown from "single digits to over one-third." According to CAHP Counsel and Spokesperson Jeff Levin, "China has dumped products into the U.S. market that are well below fair value. Furthermore, Chinese manufacturers receive an array of government subsidies, including that country's manipulation of currency exchange rates. All of these factors equate to an enormous unfair advantage for Chinese manufacturers and injure the entire domestic hardwood flooring industry. Even more ominously, these unfair trade practices present a fundamental, if not insurmountable, obstacle to the domestic industry's ability to recover its competitive footing, even when underlying economic conditions in this country turn more favorable."

Levin added that it is not only the manufacturers that are impacted by these imports, but also retailers and consumers. "The profit margins for distributors and specialty retailers have continually dimensioned," Levin said. "Beautiful, well-styled domestic products that once earned a reasonable profit have been relegated to commodity status as Chinese companies simply appropriate the costly development and market-testing efforts of domestic manufacturers. In addition, service levels have suffered throughout the supply chain. In the end, everyone throughout U.S. commercial channels, up to and including the consumer, ultimately suffers."

ITC's Director of Investigations has scheduled a conference for 9:30 a.m. ET on Nov. 12 in connection with the investigation. The ITC has said it will reach a preliminary determination in the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations by Dec. 6.

The U.S. subheadings of the products in question are 4409.10, 4409.29, 4412.31, 4412.32, 4412.39, 4412.94, 4412.99, 4418.71, 4418.72, 4418.79, 4418.90 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.

 Multilayered flooring manufactured in China
and exported to the United States is at the crux
of an antidumping petition.

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