WASHINGTON — Several members of the Mississippi congressional delegation have asked federal authorities to investigate whether Chinese and other foreign furniture importers and exporters are skirting antidumping trade restrictions—practices that have hurt Mississippi wooden furniture makers in the past.
U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker and U.S. Representatives Bennie Thompson and Travis Childers have signed a letter to the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security seeking an investigation of “potential Chinese circumvention of a 2005 antidumping order, as well as any efforts regarding outstanding antidumping duties.”
The correspondence to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was prompted by concerns raised by Johnston Tombigbee Furniture (JTB), a wooden furniture manufacturer in Columbus.
“Despite steps taken by the Department of Commerce in the 2005 antidumping order regarding wooden bedroom furniture, it appears some exporters and importers of Chinese furniture are circumventing the payment of antidumping duties,” the Mississippi lawmakers wrote. “If exporters and importers are actively circumventing the payment of duties, U.S. furniture producers and their workers are not receiving the intended benefits of the antidumping law.”
As a result of an antidumping petition filed by JTB and other U.S. producers in 2003, the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce determined that injurious dumping was occurring, and an antidumping order covering wooden bedroom furniture from China was published in 2005.
The letter references JTB’s assertions that proper payments for antidumping duties are not being collected, as well as JTB concerns that an increasing number of importers may be attempting to evade the payment of final antidumping duties.
In its most recently published report on the furniture industry in Mississippi (2007), the Franklin Furniture Institute (FFI) showed that the industry employs about 27,000 individuals in the state, producing more than $3.3 billion in goods annually. The overall furniture industry represents about 2 percent of all employment in the state and pays an estimated $884 million in wages and salaries.