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The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) announced that it found reason to believe the U.S. quartz manufacturing industry has been materially injured by imports of low-cost Chinese imports being sold at less than fair value after a claim was filed by Cambria. As a result, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, with preliminary countervailing duty and antidumping duty determinations due by September 13 versus July, after Cambria asked for more time to thoroughly investigate Chinese subsidies. 

Cambria's petition pegged the price of Chinese quartz being imported into the United States at more than 300 percent below fair market value. While no one is quite sure how countervailing and antidumping duties will affect the quartz countertop market, China is a major source of quartz slab used in the fabrication of engineered stone countertops. “In 2017, the country accounted for about half of the total used in the U.S.,” reports Freedonia Group analyst Matthew Hurley. Since 2012, U.S. imports of quartz slab have surged in response to the robust growth in the U.S. engineered stone countertop market. “During this time, Chinese producers have taken considerable market share away from the leading producers,” said Hurley. “If antidumping and countervailing duties are imposed as expected, this will have an immediate impact on average slab prices. This will slow engineered stone countertop market growth in area terms to some degree.” 

It is not known what the duties may be, as that is determined by the U.S. Commerce Department after a final ruling has been made. 

While some have spoke out against the duties and others have expressed favor or made no comment at all, it is up to each business, whether manufacturer, distributor or fabricator of quartz products to decide if they believe the additional charges on Chinese quartz will affect them, and whether that will affect them negatively or positively. Because of the varying interests and opinions by fabricators as to whether these governmental actions are positive or negative, ISFA has not taken an official stance, but rather seeks to provide informaiton to the fabrication community so that each business can make its own decision on the matter. 

Those wanting more information or to express their opinions on the issue may contact USITC Agents Andrew Medley, Blaine Wiltse or Whitley Herndon at (202) 482-4987, (202) 482-6345, or (202) 482-6274, respectively. 

Once the preliminary ruling is finalized in just a few short days, the government will send out questionnaires to producers/manufacturers, importers/distributors and purchasers/fabricators looking for input to solidify the determination within the 75 days allotted by government rules. Once the questionnaires have been returned (and in some cases they can be required to be returned under order of subpoena), then the USITC will finalize it's position.That will be followed by a ruling by the U.S. Commerce Department on how much the countervailing/antidumping duties will be, assuming the preliminary ruling is confirmed. 

In an effort to give fabricators in the industry a vehicle to voice their opinions, either pro or con, once the questionnaires are available (they can typically be downloaded from the USITC website), ISFA will send out a follow-up to this special bulletin that includes a link to how one might download a questionnaire for submission. 

NOTE: These duties are not related to the ad valorem tariffs that the Trump administration is currently considering (ranging from 10 to 25 percent) on $200 billion of imports from China in more than 6,000 product categories, which includes natural stone, engineered stone such as quartz surfacing, stoneworking machinery and potentially ceramic tile. These new tariffs would be in addition to current rates of 1.9 to 6 percent on stone (plus duties from quartz dumping) and, if implemented, could go into effect in in autumn.
The International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to helping its members become more profitable through education, fostering professionalism and promoting the countertop/surfacing industry. Contact ISFA at (412) 487-3207 or info@isfanow.org.
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