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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission to maintain duties on Chinese furniture imports will help combat China’s unfair trade practices, Virginia’s U.S. Sen. James Webb said this week.
In testimony submitted to the commission review hearing in October, Webb warned that “dumping” practices are putting Virginia manufacturers on “a knife’s edge” and that failure to counter them could lead to “the point where the furniture industry in Virginia is only history.”
He cited Galax’s Vaughan-Bassett Furniture as a leader in the U.S. bedroom furniture industry and as an example of needed protections because “We in Virginia cannot afford to lose more jobs in this industry.”
“In these difficult times, it is critical that the commission vote to retain the antidumping order on imports from China and not risk greater harm — or worse — to one of the few remaining U.S. bedroom furniture producers,” Webb told the commission Oct. 5.
In a statement issued this week, Webb said, “I believe that trade can help America’s working men and women, but it requires that everyone play by the rules.
“In the Senate, I have continuously called for China to act more responsibly on the international stage, in a way that reflects its emerging economic and military status.”
In 2004, the Department of Commerce and the USITC found that Chinese manufacturers were selling wooden bedroom furniture in the U.S. market at unfair prices and injuring domestic furniture companies, as a result of which duties were placed on Chinese imports.
A sunset review is required by law five years after any duties are implemented in order to determine if they are still necessary. In its sunset review earlier this year, the Department of Commerce found that ending the Chinese furniture duties “would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping.”
The commission announced Tuesday its determination that lifting duties would likely lead “to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time.”
As a result, duties on the imports will remain in place.
Sen. Webb testifies at Chinese import hearing
U.S. Sen. James Webb, D-Virginia, submitted this statement at a hearing by the U.S. International Trade Commission regarding imports of wooden bedroom furniture from China. It is edited here for length.
I appreciate the opportunity to appear here today and speak on behalf of the furniture industry in Virginia, and the importance of retaining the antidumping duty order on wooden bedroom furniture from China.
Virginia’s furniture industry has a long and rich history, reaching back to the Colonial period.
By the middle of the 1700s, fine craftsmen were supplying much of Virginia’s furniture needs, supplanting English-made furniture, a trend that was only to increase in the run up to the Revolutionary War.
When the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. led the way to the restoration of historic Williamsburg, it was Virginia furniture craftsmen that were the source of the again popular Williamsburg furniture style.
Unfortunately, precious little of this industry remains and the losses to Virginia, in jobs and livelihoods, have been severe.
After 40 years in business, American of Martinsville closed on April 16, 2010, and filed for bankruptcy a month later. Two hundred twenty-five employees lost their jobs.
In this economy, and with a skill set learned over years working in the furniture industry, these former employees have had few job alternatives.
Thomas B. Stanley, who served the people of Virginia in the House of Representatives and as governor, founded a furniture company in 1924. Such was the importance of the company that the community renamed the town where the company was founded as Stanleyville.
Stanley Furniture sources 75 percent of its raw materials within 500 miles of its plant sites. The Stanleytown plant is closing in a few months.
The recession has made Virginia’s furniture companies more vulnerable to the harm of Chinese imports, even with an antidumping duty order in place.
Demand for bedroom furniture has fallen as home sales and new home building have fallen. The industry can ill afford more shocks.
I believe that trade can help America’s working men and women, but it requires that everyone play by the rules. In the Senate, I continue to speak about the need for China to act in ways that are commensurate with the status it projects on the international stage, and for the United States to reconfigure our relationship with China in a way that reflects more clearly its emerging status economically and in terms of our own national security and security of the East Asia region.
Today is not the first time I have expressed concern about the impact of China’s unfair trade policies on the United States, and Virginia in particular.
We in Virginia cannot afford to lose more jobs in this industry. Vaughan-Bassett is a leader in the U.S. bedroom furniture industry and a valued corporate citizen of Virginia.
In these difficult times, it is critical that the commission vote to retain the antidumping order on imports from China and not risk greater harm — or worse — to one of the few remaining U.S. bedroom furniture producers.
The Virginians fortunate enough to still have jobs in the furniture industry are living on a knife’s edge. In Southwest and Southside Virginia, furniture was the lifeblood of these areas throughout the Commonwealth’s history.
Without continuing to combat China’s unfair trade practices, however, I am afraid that we may reach the point where the furniture industry in Virginia is only history.