A Refresher for Flooring Retailers on Tariffs and Duties for Multilayered Wood Flooring

By Jennifer Zimmerman

Tariffs, duties, customs, anti-dumping. These terms have become a part of today’s everyday business vernacular, and should be on high on your radar. There’s new duty updates coming our way, and it potentially impacts all of us in the wood flooring industry. Here’s a basic, quick refresher on how they may impact multilayered wood flooring (any flooring that has two or more plies of wood with a core).

Both tariffs and duties are forms of taxes imposed by the government on goods which are imported from another country.

There are currently three major types of duties or tariffs currently applied to wood flooring in the U.S.:

  1. Standard Customs Duty = usually 0 to 8% for Chinese engineered wood imports (species and structure-dependent)
    • This duty is meant to support U.S.-based businesses by charging a premium on products manufactured internationally. The typical range is 0 to 8% for engineered wood imported from China and varies by species and structure. Most plywood engineered flooring has an 8% standard customs duty.
  2. China Import Tariff = 25%.
    • This is the recently announced additional 25% tariff for flooring items imported from China. Virtually all types of flooring manufactured in China, resilient and wood alike, are impacted by this tariff.
  3. Anti-dumping Duty Rate = 42.57% (Announced July 30, 2019).
    • There are a lot of complexities to the concept of “dumping,” but in essence, this occurs when the U.S. Government determines that manufacturers in a particular country are loading inventory into the U.S. at unfair low costs. This is the case with wood flooring imported from China categorized as multilayered wood flooring (MLWF) containing two or more layers or plies of wood veneers assembled with a core. We commonly refer to MLWF as engineered wood flooring.
    • A new antidumping duty final rate for certain MLWF imports from China was announced on July 30. With the exception of a few manufacturers, the deposit rate for MLWF products imported from China will be 42.57% starting in the beginning of August and will continue until a new rate is announced in mid-2020. In addition, importers of record will be responsible to pay a retroactive rate of this same amount on product that cleared Customs from December 1, 2016 through November 30, 2017. Products from Sino-Maple will have a rate of 83.15% during this same time period.
    • Even if you are not an importer of record, you can expect a healthy increase to the MLWF products you purchase.
    • The rate for the past two years has been zero so this duty may be off of your radar.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Business?

You have taken the first step in protecting your business by getting up to speed on current tariffs and duties. Next, you should carefully review your product portfolio for wood flooring products likely to receive the antidumping duty increase. Finally, discuss with your sales contacts or manufacturers what alternatives are available to you. In addition to stocking domestically-produced wood flooring products, retailers can consider engineered wood products sourced from countries other than China, including Cambodia and Vietnam.

Jennifer Zimmerman, Esquire is General Counsel of AHF Products, based in Mountville, Pa. Jennifer has worked as an in-house attorney in the flooring industry for over a decade and has significant experience with global trade and regulatory matters related to floor coverings. She holds a J.D from Widener University School of Law and a B.A. from George Washington University.

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