- A Commerce Department program that allows Chinese wood furniture manufacturers to avoid duties by paying penalty fees to U.S. competitors is coming under scrutiny.
Today's Wall. St. Journal reports that Chinese furniture makers paid $13 million in such penalties to 20 U.S. manufacturers between 2006 and 2009, payments that William Silverman, a lawyer for U.S. furniture retailers, says "are clever shakedowns." The payments allow the Chinese wood manufacturers to be removed from lists of firms that will be required to pay tariffs on furniture exports to the U.S., says the Wall St. Journal, some at rates of over 200 percent.
In its latest finding related to Chinese wood furniture dumping, the Commerce Department said last week it had "preliminarily determined" that Chinese wood bedroom furniture manufacturers sold goods to the U.S. market "at prices below normal value." The multi-year investigation names more than three dozen China wood furniture manufacturers that will face retroactive tariffs from 16% to over 200%.
Years of Commerce Department actions against China's furniture exporters have had little impact, says the Wall St. Journal report. In some cases, China manufacturers moved furniture production to Vietnam, which saw big increases - rising 31 percent in 2010 to $1.8 billion - of exports to the U.S.
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