On Dec. 26, 2006, the Commerce Department imposed duties of 4.4 percent to 44.3 percent on certain types of polyester staple fiber being imported from China to the United States. DAK Americas, Nan Ya Plastics Corp. and Wellman Inc. have long been petitioning the Bush administration to undertake an investigation and level duties.
The duties were leveled following a preliminary determination from Commerce Department investigators that the fibers, used as filling for ski jackets, sleeping bags and other products, have been sold into the United States at prices below fair market value.
The Commerce Department is scheduled to make its final determination on leveling duties on Feb. 28 and the U.S. International Trade Commission will then likely give its approval on April 14. Once that is done, the duties will stand for five years, at which time they come up for what is known as sunset review.
"This antidumping case is yet another example of why the outdoor industry needs to be involved in trade issues. The countervailing duties -- some as high as 44 percent -- being imposed against importers of polyester staple fiber will have a substantially negative affect, particularly on the smaller manufacturers who don't necessarily have the resources to be aware of or defend themselves against these kinds of problems," Frank Hugelmeyer, president of Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), told SNEWS®.
"OIA works on the trade issues that specifically affect outdoor businesses. We update our members of new developments, inform them when action is needed, and work closely with the federal government to represent the interests of the industry," added Hugelmeyer.
At the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show, OIA is hosting analysts from the U.S. International Trade Commission to assist them in a study of performance outerwear apparel.
"This is one example of how OIA works to best represent industry needs and inform policy makers," said Hugelmeyer. "We want to ensure manufacturers and retailers of these products are provided the best opportunity for a positive outcome."
SNEWS® View: In speaking with a wide net of industry insiders, this duty is unlikely to affect any large ski jacket manufacturers and certainly no large sleeping bag manufacturers. Those that may be affected will be smaller manufacturers that are producing goods domestically and bringing raw materials into the United States as a result. Washington, D.C., insiders also told us that in this volatile trading climate we are now in, and with a new Congress and a lot of administrative uncertainty, we are likely to see renewed efforts to take punitive action against targeted Chinese imports. Many of these, like this polyester one, are considered completely meaningless and will only serve to further damage innovation and domestic production by small manufacturers struggling to compete with larger companies that primarily produce goods overseas anyway. Now, it is never more important to become a member of OIA, and to speak up and support all efforts to slap down silly tariffs and duties that will only hurt us all -- from manufacturers to retailers to consumers.