Some US companies are siding with China in this USITC antidumping case

The US International Trade Commission (USITC) is nearing preliminary determinations in its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations into multilayered wood flooring from China, the Wall Street Journal reports. The investigation was requested by the Coalition for American Hardwood Parity on behalf of eight US flooring manufacturers.

Multilayered Wood Flooring (MLWF) is fabricated from plies of wood (and sometimes with other wood materials such as fiberboard) and finished off with a veneer in the wood species of choice. The product is also referred to as engineered or plywood flooring. All wood finishes except cork and bamboo are included in the current USITC investigation.

The coalition charges that the Chinese products are being dumped in the US at less than fair value. But this is not a simple case of the domestic flooring industry versus Chinese imports. Most of the product reaches consumers through distributors. And American distributors such as Lumber Liquidators have aligned with Chinese exporters to fight the added duties. They say that exporters in Indonesia and Malaysia are more likely to gain than US manufacturers if Chinese flooring is penalized. Motley Fool advises You Need to Watch This Industry as the USITC preliminary ruling is released at the end of March.

We turned to the Datamyne bill-of-lading data for 2010 to get an up-to-date look at the trade in flooring. We pulled the bills for the tariff codes cited by the USITC as the primary codes applied to MLWF imports (see this fact sheet).

Clearly, China dominates waterborne imports with nearly 60% of share by volume. But our list of top US importers offers  more insight into who’s buying from whom … and why the argument over duties doesn’t come down to “us versus them.”

Several of the top US importers are arms of multinationals based in the producing country … starting with number 1. Arauco Wood Products is the US arm of Celulosa Arauco y Constitucion S.A., one of Latin America’s major forestry companies with operations in Chile, Argentina and Brazil (the sources of Arauco’s imports). Number 2, Finnforest USA, is a unit of multinational Finnforest, itself a member of the Finland’s Metsäliitto Group, an international forest industry group with a presence in some 30 countries. Third-ranked Taraca Pacific is the marketing arm for North American sales for Cipta Cakra Murdaya, one of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates.

Skip to fifth-ranked Worldwide Building Products, which handled imports exclusively from Ecuador’s Endesa-Botrosa (Bosques Tropicales and Enchapes Decorativos) in 2010. Similarly, IWL Trading Company, at number 7, imported only flooring from China’s Linyi Jiahe Wood Co., Ltd. American Pacific Plywood Inc., number 8, principally handled the US imports of Beijing-based plywood exporter Cosco Star International (it took some shipments from Linyi Jiahe as well). None of these importers has a website.

Back to fourth-ranked Timber Products Co., one of the “homegrown” US wood products companies with  manufacturing facilities (nine) in the US. Its International Division oversees its MLWF imports, which come from multiple sources in China.  Number 6, Long Island-based distributor Sherwood Lumber Corp., supplies more than 1,800 lumber yards and manufacturers with building materials from the US and abroad.

At number 9, Weyerhaeuser Company, founded over 100 years ago in Tacoma, has become one of the world’s largest forest products companies with offices or operations in 10 countries. Rounding out the top 10 is Shelter Forest International. A subsidiary of privately-held US company Shelter Products, SFI has offices in Portland, but its production facilities are in Xuzhou, China.

To see a sample of some of the other kinds of information that can be derived from Datamyne’s bill of lading data – including shippers, carriers, destination states – you can download a free report on bamboo flooring imports here. Or ask us to show you how to use the data to research trade in your product.

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