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Chinese plywood suspect

WASHINGTON - The U.S. International Trade Commission has determined that there is enough evidence to continue antidumping and countervailing duty investigations against Chinese manufacturers of hardwood plywood.
     All six ITC commissioners have voted in support of the investigation, based on an analysis that shows the domestic industry has been materially injured by Chinese hardwood plywood imports, the agency said.
     According to U.S. manufacturers who sought the investigations, the Chinese product is allegedly subsidized and sold in the U.S. at less than fair value.
     The ITC vote means the U.S. Department of Commerce can continue investigations into subsidy and pricing issues. The countervailing duty investigation addresses the issue of subsidies manufacturers receive from the Chinese government, while the antidumping investigation addresses the issue of goods being priced below materials costs.
     The U.S. manufacturers are seeking dumping duties between 298% and 321%. If approved by the U.S. government, such duties would apply to Chinese manufacturers and would be paid by importers of record of such merchandise.
     The goods in question include hardwood plywood panel composed of two more layers of wood veneers in combination with a core. The core can be made from a variety of materials, including particleboard and medium density fiberboard.
     The product is most often used in kitchen cabinets, but also can be used in furniture. How the issue plays out could affect the pricing of U.S.-made case goods and upholstery that use such materials.
     The duties are being sought by six domestic hardwood plywood manufacturers. In a petition filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce in September, the companies said the imports of the materials from China rose 42.6% between 2009 and 2011.
     The petition also said that the rising hardwood plywood imports have captured U.S. market share at the expense of domestic manufacturers, resulting in lost sales, low rates of capacity utilization and "razor-thin" profit margins. It also said imports have led to reduced production, plant closures and layoffs.
     A full ITC report on the injury issue will be available after Dec. 10. Copies can be obtained by e-mailing pubrequest@usitc.gov, or by calling (202) 205-2000.
     The DOC continues to conduct its own investigations on imports and expects to issue a preliminary countervailing duty determination by Dec. 21. A preliminary antidumping duty investigation is due around March 6.

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