LAS VEGAS—American flooring distributors, retailers and importers opposed to an “unfair trade petition” filed by a number of U.S. manufacturers of engineered hardwood flooring with the U.S. International Trade Com- mission (ITC) and Commerce Department (DOC) got together during Surfaces 2011 and formed the Alliance for Free Choice and Jobs in Flooring (AFCJF).
Jonathan Train, import product manager of Swiff-Train and president of the new group, said the members came together to resist an attempt by large U.S. manufacturers to choke off imports of engineered hardwood flooring from China. “AFCJF is seeking to defeat the case by showing the ITC and DOC exactly why the petitioners’ allegations lack merit.”
AFCJF is a direct response to the group formed by the companies that filed the petition, known as the Coalition for American Hardwood Parity (CAHP). Joe DuPress of Custom Wholesale Floors and an AFCJF director said if CAHP’s petition is successful, “it will have the effect of driving independents out of the market by cutting them off from their source of supply. The real target of this case is not the Chinese, but the first stage of a strategy to hobble the U.S. companies that compete with the petitioners.”
Train added, “We formed this group so we can educate ourselves and others in the industry on this complicated matter. Our primary goal is to see that no new duties are placed on imports. We plan to make an aggressive legal defense at the ITC final [hearing] and believe we have a strong chance to defeat the petition.”
A secondary objective of the group, he noted, is to “provide information to the ITC and DOC about real world conditions that will help them see why there shouldn’t be a high duty rate, if any at all.”
AFCJF consists of primary and associate members. At press time, it had 10 primary members—Alston, BR Customer Surface, CFS Corp., Customer Wholesale Floors, GTP Inter- national, The Master Craft, Metropolitan Hardwood Floors, Midwest Hardwood, Real Wood Floors and Swiff-Train—and five associate members—Arimar International Corp., Global Product Sourcing, Suncrest, Verona Hardwoods and Wood Cellar.
Train said more companies were expected to sign on in the coming days. The group has established a website, afcjf.com, that not only lists its members, directors, legal counsel and contact info, it includes links to stories on the issue as well as other websites such as the ITC and DOC, and documents like the original petition and initial rulings. AFCJF has also set up a Facebook page and Twitter account for to-the-minute updates.
A decision on the petition is expected to be reached by the end of the first quarter.
For more on AFCJF and its position, visit the website or contact its legal counsel, William Perry, at 206.903.8894.
For more on CAHP and the position of its members, visit usfloorparity.org or contact its legal counsel, Jeffrey Levin, at 301.787.3531.