Volume 39, Issue 2, February  2004

GlobalUpdate

Window Industry Threatens to Fight 
Against Chinese Window Market

In light of recent reports that almost half of all imports to the United States come from U.S.-owned factories in foreign countries or from foreign companies to their U.S. affiliates, experts are urging the fenestration industry to become more competitive, especially when it comes to China. In fact, the American Architectural Manufacturers Associa-tion (AAMA) thought this issue was so important that it had Alan Dunn, former assistant secretary of commerce and partner in the law firm of Stewart and Stewart of Washington, D.C., speak at its summer meeting in Newport, R.I. Dunn urged U.S. manufacturers to be more competitive as they can offer what Chinese companies cannot, such as exceptional service, lean manufacturing and just-in-time delivery. He also reviewed the legal remedies available for companies seeking relief against suspected dumping such as defining the product, tracking the imports and deciding what constitutes injury. There are also various laws and actions to counter unfair trade, such as the Anti-Dumping Act and Section 301 of the Tariff Act of 1974, under which they can petition for an investigation by the International Trade Commission or the Department of Commerce. Dunn said that if an industry can show that such practices have harmed or will harm them, significant duties and other barriers could be placed on the imported products. 

Representatives from the AAMA Vinyl Materials Council and the Vinyl Institute met with representatives of two government agencies in Washington, D.C., in October to familiarize themselves with the petition process that protects domestic businesses from dumping.

“Because Chinese vinyl window profiles are being sold at between 35 and 50 percent below U.S. market prices, the majority of our members are extremely concerned about possible dumping,” said Rich Walker, executive vice president of AAMA. “At present, the majority of vinyl extrusions imported are sourced from Canada and are AAMA-certified, but are also competitively priced within the United States. While the current level of Chinese vinyl profile imports has not yet risen above the 3-percent market volume threshold required to file a complaint, the rate of increase is high and troubling.”

In response to the problem, AAMA is collecting information and documentation from the industry in preparation of filing an anti-dumping petition. Walker noted that the association would consider the future and projected harm of dumping, which includes factors such as announced plant capacity additions in China, contracts with U.S. customers and a rapid rise in import volume. One of the requirements for filing a petition is to gain the support of at least 25 percent of domestic vinyl window profile producers, which can be assumed, given the dominant representation of the industry within the AAMA Vinyl Material Council, according to Walker.

“Although the petition takes a year to process, it is possible to take remedial action within five months of the petition filing date,” said Walker. 

In order for Chinese imports to be monitored in a meaningful way for the fenestration industry and to update the petition process in the event of rapidly escalating imports and industry harm, Walker said that the U.S. Customs Department will be consulted to clarify and isolate the classification of imported vinyl window profiles. 

AAMA is not the only association concerned with this issue. Rand Baldwin, president of the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC), points to a study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) that paints a grim outlook for U.S.manufacturing.

“The NAM study is a wake-up call,” said Baldwin. “If we didn’t know it already, it is clearer than ever before that manufacturing in this country—and in many industrialized countries of the world—needs to be a top priority for policy makers and leaders.” 

With that goal in mind, the AEC is participating in campaigns to raise awareness of these issues among policy makers in Washington and between the general U.S. and Canadian public. 

According to the study, the intervention of the Chinese government in maintaining its currency at artificially low levels (an estimated 40 percent below market rates) has created an uneven playing field. 

“The effects of this can be seen in a number of domestic markets for aluminum extrusion,” said Baldwin. “China was granted entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, which means free access to our members’ markets. WTO and International Monetary Fund rules prohibit currency manipulation and AEC is actively advocating the position that the WTO provisions be fully and immediately enforced.” 


USG

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