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Industry awaits ITC’s vote in antidumping case

HICKSVILLE, N.Y.—No matter which side of the fence you sit on, two dates this year will be looked upon as part of one historic event for the industry, specifically those dealing with engineered wood.

The first of those was Oct. 12. That was when the Department of Commerce (DOC) announced its final rates with regard to its investigation in the Chinese antidumping wood case, as well as when the International Trade Commission (ITC) was holding its final public hearing on the matter (FCNews, Oct. 10/17).

The second date is expected to occur Nov. 9. That is when the ITC votes to say whether harm is being done to U.S. manufacturers from the dumping of engineered wood flooring products by Chinese producers. If the vote is affirmative, then the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD) announced by DOC become permanent—barring the discovery of any ministerial errors in the interim that could alter the overall percentages—until further notice. If the vote is no, then the case which was first brought to the government last October, will be dismissed, meaning companies will not be required to pay extra duties, tariffs, cash deposits, or other financial reparations. After the vote, ITC still needs to submit a final report by Nov. 21, but that is more a formality as the “yay or nay,” vote is what matters most in this situation.

Until the ITC votes, the industry is in a virtual state of limbo as everyone awaits the final verdict. The reason is not so much the rates put forth by DOC are prohibitive—the companies responsible for the vast majority of the imports would pay approximately 3% to 5% more—rather it is the uncertainty of any retroactive duties that could be imposed upwards of five years after the fact.

“This whole thing…is a huge disruption to our industry,” said Jonathan Train, import product manager of Swiff-Train and president of the Alliance for Free Choice and Jobs in Flooring (AFCJF), a group of flooring distributors, retailers and importers created to oppose the unfair trade petition. “Imports help make the whole wood flooring category a better offering for the consumer. Everyone in the engineered hardwood flooring industry needs to understand the magnitude of this final determination.”

Because this is a very complicated matter with ramifications that stretch around the world, Floor Covering News will have indepth coverage on what the figures mean and how they will impact everyone throughout the supply chain following ITC’s action—especially if it votes affirmative. If the agency votes to dismiss the case, the issue is not as complex.

-Matthew Spieler