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Official Aims to Calm Furniture Row

Officials from China's furniture industry Thursday reacted to the anti-dumping row with the United States by saying that cooperation rather than confrontation will benefit the two countries.


Chinese furniture makers are already preparing their defense for a possible anti-dumping case brought by some US manufacturers.


A senior official from the furniture subcouncil of the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Light Industrial Products and Arts and Crafts, the major organization responsible for the import and export of furniture, said increased furniture exports from China not only benefit Chinese manufacturers but also the US furniture industry and consumers.


"Some 60 percent of China's furniture exports are from the processing trade," said the official, who refused to be named.


"Most of them come from Sino-US joint ventures, which ship the materials from the United States, assemble the furniture in China and export them back to the United States," the official added.


These joint ventures earn fat profits and also help boost the furniture industry in the United States, the official said.


Many US furniture importers, wholesalers and retailers make their living thanks to the Chinese furniture trade, which creates a lot of jobs in the United States, the official said.


Relatively cheap Chinese furniture is also a better choice for US consumers at a time when their country's economy is sluggish.


"The furniture industries in the two countries can complement each other as the United States makes high-end furniture and the Chinese industry focuses on middle- and low-grade furniture," the official said.


A group of US companies announced late last month that they would file a petition this autumn with the US Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission to investigate wooden bedroom furniture imported from China.


Major Chinese exporters have formed a special committee to deal with any possible cases, said Jia Qingwen, director of the China National Furniture Association.


The US furniture makers involved have accused Chinese furniture makers of selling products at below market cost, which they say has contributed to the closure of dozens of US furniture factories this year.


Jia, however, insisted that the charge is groundless, given the fact that the furniture exported from China makes a greater profit than that sold within China.


"They (the Chinese companies) are not dumping. They export because they can sell at a higher price than at home," said Jia.


"The average profit level of exports can be as much as 30 percent."


Jia also noted that most exporters are private companies that have not been subsidized by the government.


"Chinese exporters can afford (to sell at) lower prices because of the low production costs in China, which is also the reason why so many foreign furniture makers either shift their production bases to China or have their products made here and sold back home," he said.


China exported US$2.8 billion worth of furniture to the United States last year. Total furniture exports were worth US$5.38 billion.


(China Daily August 22, 2003) 

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