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Furniture makers to fight dumping charges
( 2003-11-06 10:19) (China Daily HK Edition)

Local furniture makers have raised funds in Shenzhen to engage legal aid to fight dumping accusations by their US counterparts.

A coalition of US furniture makers filed a petition seeking the imposition of anti-dumping duties against Chinese-made wooden bedroom furniture with the US Department of Commerce and US International Trade Commission on Friday, saying Chinese imports are priced too low in the US market.

If the anti-dumping duties are imposed, which the US coalition suggested begin at 158 per cent, furniture makers in Guangdong Province, especially those in Shenzhen, will suffer most.

According to official statistics, China produced nearly US$20 billion worth of furniture last year, of which one-third was exported, half of it to the US.

Shenzhen alone realized an output of 15 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) last year, of which nearly US$1.3 billion worth was exported, accounting for 25.6 per cent of the country's total furniture exports, according to Shenzhen Customs figures.

About US$600 million worth of Shenzhen-made furniture was exported to the US market, of which wooden bedroom furniture accounts for more than half.

Hou Kepeng, secretary-general of the Shenzhen Furniture Association, said dumping duties, if imposed, would hurt 26 local companies and about 100,000 employees.

Besides forming a special committee to fight the dumping charges, Shenzhen furniture makers have also joined a nation-wide anti-dumping working committee based in neighbouring Dongguan, said Hou.

The committee has raised more than US$15 million to pay the legal costs and support other anti-dumping efforts.

The 31-company US coalition said imports from China are ravaging its industry. Over the last two and a half years, the US wooden-furniture-making industry has shed approximately 34,000 jobs, or 28 per cent of its work force, according to the US Department of Labour.

While imports from China have grown significantly, the domestic production of all wooden furniture fell to US$10.67 billion last year from US$12.12 billion in 2000, according to the American Furniture Manufacturers Association, an industry group.

However, Chinese furniture makers said the lower prices of their products are reasonable because of low costs.

"Our furniture is popular among American consumers because of low price and good quality. The competition between Chinese and US goods is good for the healthy development of the furniture sector in the United States," said Zhao, a manager at Changjiang Furniture Co.

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