Sen. Schumer: Harden Furniture Owed $1-Million in Antidumping Fees

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Sen. Schumer_ Harden Furniture Owed $1-Million in Antidumping Fees_-8853901686878023912

It’s the oldest family-owned furniture maker in North America and it’s located right here in Central New York, but they’re not being treated with respect. At least that’s what Senator Chuck Schumer says. He tells us that Harden Furniture in Mcconnellsville and other U.S. furniture makers are owed tens of millions of dollars in anti-dumping fees our federal government has failed to collect from illegal Chinese imports.

The Senator says it’s our own government’s fault. The Harden CEO tells us this has been an issue since 2003 when 2 dozen manufacturers asked the government to investigate pricing tactics of Chinese bedroom furniture producers. The investigation showed that Chinese manufacturers were flooding the U.S. Market with cheaper material costs, which is illegal according to international trade laws.

“A petition was filed (in 2003) it was determined they did in fact dump bedroom furniture into this country and duties were imposed,” says Greg Harden, CEO and president of Harden Furniture.

To help compensate U.S. Producers like Harden, the government enforced duties on Chinese wooden furniture imports, whose prices are often low due to illegal trade practices.

“It’s been very effective, it really leveled the playing field, it allowed domestic manufacturers like us who probably would have been driven out of business to survive,” says Harden.

But a decade later…

“There’s some complacency, maybe they’re not doing the jobs the way they should’ve. I also think they’ve allowed producers to avoid paying duty or paying duty at a rate that’s too low,” says Harden.

At Harden Furniture, a bed set could go for about $2400 dollars, a similar piece imported could go for about $1500 dollars, but illegally dumped and you’re looking at a price as low as $900 dollars. Mr. Harden says that’s not right.

“It does create distortions, it does create situations where companies can sell products that are below fair market value,” says Harden.

And Senator Chuck Schumer, who previously worked to impose anti-dumping fees is speaking out. He’s blaming Customs and Border Protection (CBP) who have not been collecting that money. The Senator says our government needs to ensure domestic makers like Harden, get the damages they are owed and that cheap Chinese products are not pricing them out of the market.

As far as a timeline for seeing the $1-million dollars they’re owed, Mr. Harden says he doesn’t know but he hopes it will be this coming year. And we do want to mention that Harden Furniture brings $20-million dollars into Oneida County each year, while employing 250 people.

For a complete look at Senator Schumer’s release:

Today, U. S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed that Harden Furniture and other furniture manufacturers in the U.S. are owedtens of millions of dollarsin antidumping fees that the federal government has not collected from illegal Chinese wooden furniture imports. Schumer previously worked to impose antidumping fees on companies, many based in China, that unfairly compete with domestic furniture producersand damage businesses like Harden Furniture. However, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not collected these fees, and has also failed to disclose which companies are missing out and what they are owed. Harden estimates it is owed about $1 million – non-taxpayerresources it would use to ramp up its expansion plans while ensuring 250 McConnellsville jobs stay right where they are, in Oneida County. Schumer will demand CBP immediately begin to publicly identify and collect the uncollected fees he helped impose on Chinesewooden furniture producers, and in turn deliver the hundreds of millions of dollars owed to Harden and other wood furniture companies across the country.  
“It is simply unacceptable that Customs and Border Protection officials have been asleep at the wheel when it comes to collecting the mandated fees on illegal Chinesefurniture imports that are intended to level the playing field for domestic furniture manufacturers that are playing by the rules. The CBP cannot even identify the bad actors which continue to break the law. This negligence has cost furniture manufactures tensof millions of dollars across the country, and it is felt deeply at home where Harden Furniture, one of Central New York’s landmark companies, has been denied an estimated $1 million dollars in uncollected fees,” said Senator Schumer. “This lost revenuenot only prevents Harden from being able to expand and grow, but it also creates unfair competition for this home-grown business. I am calling on the CBP to swiftly reconcile the damages owed to Harden so they can continue their planned expansion, increaseproduction, and maintain and grow their workforce.”
“At Harden we’re proud of the fact that we’ve committed to an American workforce, led by some verytalented people from in and around Oneida County. In fact, over 99% of our production is domestic and that’s a trend more and more customers are appreciating,” said Greg Harden, President, Harden Furniture. “Unfortunately, Senator Schumer is right and Customsofficials are asleep at the wheel, refusing to enforce measures the Senator wisely put in place. This is costing our industry millions in uncollected damages; money we’d be using to boost production and jobs right here in Oneida County. We thank Senator Schumerfor calling attention to the problem and remain optimistic he will find a solution.”

In 2005, the International Trade Commission (ITC) began to charge a penalty on cheap Chinese wooden furniture imports, whose prices are artificially low due to deceptive and illegal trade practices. The duties imposed ranged from 1 to 198 percent, and initiallywent a long way towards protecting the remaining U.S. furniture manufacturers from further harm, allowing companies like Harden Furniture and L. & J.G. Stickley to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. In 2010, these antidumping duties were set to expirebefore Senator Schumer stepped-in to fight for their renewal. The ITC voted 6-0 in favor of maintaining the duties. However, in recent years the Customs and Border Protection has failed to enforce these duties on cheap illegal imports from countries like China,which has left Harden without approximately $1 million that it is owed.
Schumer highlighted that Harden Furniture, which has been producing furniture in New York for over 100 years, pumps $20 million into the Oneida County regionaleconomy each year, and contributes even more to the state via sales tax. Schumer stressed that the federal government need to ensure domestic manufacturers like Harden, which manufactures 99% of its products domestically, get the damages they are owed and thatcheap Chinese products are not pricing them out of the market.
“American companies like Harden make higher quality furniture than their Chinese competitors. They pay their workers a fairwage with benefits and they make the local communities in which they live a better place–they should at least be able to compete on an even playing field. I will continue to push the feds until these fees are duly collected and delivered to Harden because Iwant to make sure they are here to stay for the next 100 years,” Schumercontinued.
Previous to the 2005 ITC decision, American producers of wooden bedroom furniture – including New York manufacturers Harden Furniture and L. & J.G. Stickley – filedan antidumping petition in 2003 on imports of wooden bedroom furniture from China.  After extensive investigation, the Department of Commerce determined that Chinese wooden bedroom furniture was being dumped in the U.S. market, and the ITC found that theseimports from China were causing injury to our domestic industry and workers producing wooden bedroom furniture. 
Dumping occurs when a foreign producer sells a product in the United States at a price that is below that producer’s sales price in its home market, or at a pricethat is lower than the cost of production. The difference between the price (or cost) in the foreign market and the price in the U.S. market is called the dumping margin.  The dumping margin is used to determine the amount of antidumping duties to be collectedon imports of a product found to be dumped and causing injury to the domestic industry.
Harden Furniture, located in McConnellsville, New York, was started in 1844.  Still family-owned and operated, Harden Furniture has been and remains a cornerstonein the Central New York economy and provides 251 families with good paying jobs.  Generations of American workers and their families have depended on L. & J.G. Stickley and Harden Furniture for their livelihoods. 
A copy of Sen. Schumer’s letter to DHS appears below:
 
Dear Secretary Napolitano:
 
I write today on behalf of one of Central New York’s most iconic wooden furniture producers, Harden Furniture.  As a result of a petition filed by this company and others in its industry, the Commerce Department imposed an antidumping duty on imports of woodenbedroom furniture from China in 2005.  With my support, these duties were renewed by the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission in 2010.
 
Harden Furniture and their 250 New York employees face crippling competition from dumped imports of wooden bedroom furniture from China.  The duties imposed on dumped imports have gone a long way towards protecting the remaining U.S. wooden furniture companies- including New York’s Harden Furniture – from further harm, and in keeping manufacturing jobs in this industry in the United States.   The duties remain necessary to protect these and other U.S. manufacturers, and their employees, from continuation or recurrenceof economic injury.
 
Reports published by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) pursuant to the
Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act (“CDSOA”) demonstrate that hundreds of millions of dollars in antidumping duties on imports of wooden furniture from China remain uncollected. These amounts are likely to be understated because the uncollected dutiesreported by CBP do not include data for any uncollected duties for imports that entered after the CDSOA expired on October 1, 2007.  

I understand that counsel to the wooden furniture producers attempted to obtain a summary of these antidumping duties that remain uncollected in order to assist CBP in identifying the relevant importer’s collectible assets, under a Freedom Of Information Actrequest, but that CBP’s FOIA officer informed counsel that CBP does not have a summary of the remaining uncollected duties and that CBP is not required to create such a summary in response to a FOIA request. 
 
I remain concerned that CBP does not have a readily available summary of the current status of the uncollected duties.   CBP has an obligation to use its best efforts to collect these duties.  An obvious first step is to catalogue what remains outstanding andfrom whom – both for entries subject to the fees and those not subject to the fees.  It strains credulity to suggest that CBP would not have such a report or could not promptly prepare one.
 
Again, I am hopeful that CBP will provide Harden and this industry with a summary of all the duties that remain uncollected under the order on wooden furniture from China, including the identities of the importers, the amounts owed by each importer to Harden,and the amount of time the duties owed by each importer have gone uncollected.   In addition, please have CBP provide an explanation of the efforts made to date to collect these duties and CBP’s plan for future collection efforts. 

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter and do not hesitate to contact me as it relates to this request.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer
U.S. Senator

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