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Lawmakers urge action on uncollected furniture import duties

WASHINGTON — Several U.S. senators and representatives sent a joint letter to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary this week urging the collection of unpaid duties on Chinese wood bedroom furniture imports.

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture from China. The unpaid duties are owed by importers of wooden bedroom items, according to the letter.

It said that U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is overseen by DHS, has reported hundreds of millions of dollars in antidumping duties remains uncollected for a period between January 2005 and September 2007.

"Unfortunately, the total amount owed may be significantly higher because CBP has not collected data on uncollected duties for imports that entered the United states after the expiration of the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act in October 2007," the letter said.

The CDSOA distributed duties back to companies who petitioned the government for the duties.

The letter added that while domestic furniture producers have requested additional information about the uncollected duties and "relevant importers," Customs has said the information is not available.

The letter was signed by senators Jim Webb, D-Va., Mark Warner, D-Va., Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., and representatives Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.

"We greatly appreciate the support of Sen. Warner and other members of Congress for their continued efforts to protect and expand manufacturing jobs in the United States," said Doug Bassett, president of Virginia manufacturer Vaughan-Bassett Furniture, in a press release.

Bassett is a spokesman for the American Furniture Manufacturers Committee for Legal Trade, which includes petitioners in the case.

The letter requested a summary from CBP of the current status of all duties that remain uncollected, and the identities of the importers whose duties have gone uncollected.

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