WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - A U.S. trade panel on Friday approved an investigation into charges Chinese companies are selling hardwood plywood in the United States at unfairly low prices, setting the stage for the Commerce Department to set preliminary duties next month.
The case is the latest in a long string of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases U.S. manufacturers have brought against China in the past 10 years.
A group of plywood manufacturers in North Carolina, New York and Oregon, calling themselves the Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood, have accused Chinese manufacturers and exporters of “dumping” the plywood in the United States at prices 298 percent to 322 percent below fair market value.
They also want countervailing duties to offset alleged Chinese government subsidies given to the companies.
The U.S. International Trade Commission voted 6-0 that there was enough indication that U.S. producers had been harmed by the imports to warrant a Commerce Department investigation.
The department has already begun that probe and is expected to announce preliminary countervailing duties in December and preliminary anti-dumping duties in March.
The United States imported about $617 million of the hardwood plywood from China in 2011, down from $635 million in 2010. The wood is used for cabinets, flooring and other housing applications.
Washington has already slapped duties on wooden bedroom furniture from China and hardwood flooring in recent years.
China, since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, has become the most frequent target of U.S. trade “remedy” actions. The ITC on Wednesday gave final approval to duties on billions of dollars of solar energy products from China.