- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Too many cooks in the kitchen may not be the only problem.

The American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance is intensifying its push for U.S. government action against what it says are unfair Chinese trade practices hurting 250,000 jobs in the cabinet industry.

The U.S. Commerce Department will decide by Aug. 5 on an unfair trade petition filed by the AKCA, a group of cabinet manufacturers who say Chinese competitors are dumping their product on the U.S. market in the hunt for greater market share. The fight offers a window into the larger clash launched by the Trump administration to address what it says are longtime, systematic trade abuses by China.

The antidumping and countervailing duty petitions filed by the AKCA in March is one of the biggest trade cases filed against China at the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Commerce Department.

“We want [China] to become good members of the international community, but we cannot tolerate these unfair trade practices any longer,” Sen. Mike Rounds, South Dakota Republican, said at a news conference on Wednesday with AKCA members.

Chinese exports of kitchen cabinets are up 75% since 2015, Mark Trexler, president and CEO at Marshall, Texas-based Master WoodCraft Cabinetry.

“China is taking advantage of the American consumers and American workers by dumping their product into the U.S. market,” Mr. Trexler said.

Stephen Wellborn, director of product and research at Wellborn Cabinet Inc. of Ashland, Alabama, said his company has gone from 2,200 employees to 1,300 employees.

Timothy Brightbill, counsel for AKCA, said the intent of the trade case is to level the playing field. If they win the case, a duty would be imposed on the importer of record of Chinese-made cabinets.

But in a sign of the complexity of trade policy, not all cabinet distributors are backing the trade group’s petition.

“The trade petition filed by the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance is an attempt by a handful of cabinet companies to take advantage of recent U.S.-China trade tensions and convince the U.S. government to eliminate competition in the cabinet market,” The American Coalition of Cabinet Distributors (ACCD) said in a statement after Wednesday’s Washington briefing for reporters.

The ACCD warned that if AKCA succeeds with its trade petition, “high duties may all but eliminate imported ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets from the U.S. market,” reducing consumer choice and hurting jobs in the RTA market.

The Commerce Department is set for a preliminary antidumping determination by October. A final decision is expected by February.


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