In April, Cambria, the largest U.S. Manufacturer of quartz surfaces, filed a claim that China had violated antidumping laws, suggesting that strict duties be imposed on imported quartz slabs and fabricated countertops. The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) was compelled by law to consider whether this claim had merit by the end of the month.
On May 31, the USITC took a vote and “determined that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of quartz surface products from China that are allegedly subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.”
This means that the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) will continue to investigate Cambria’s claim and will make a preliminary countervailing determination on or around July 11, 2018. Pending this proceeding, an antidumping determination is scheduled to be made around September 24, 2018.
“Dumped and subsidized Chinese imports are harming American workers, American businesses and American manufacturing,” stated Marty Davis, President and CEO of Cambria. “We are encouraged by the actions taken thus far by both the Department of Commerce and the ITC to stop this unfair trading and restore a level playing field where we can compete fairly in a free-market economy. The unfairly traded Chinese imports have disrupted healthy competition and threaten to gravely injure the quartz surfaces product industry at all levels of trade in the U.S.”
The Freedonia Group, a prominent industrial research company that publishes a comprehensive countertop industry outlook, also weighed in on the matter. According to the firm, China accounts for nearly half of the total quartz used in the U.S., and since 2012, imports have surged in response to growth in the engineered stone market. This has caused a slide in the market share from the leading producers, such as Cambria, Cosentino and Caesarstone.
“If antidumping and countervailing duties are imposed as expected, this will have an immediate impact on average slab prices, said Michael Hurley, an analyst for the Freedonia Group.” Hurley went on to explain that imports from China will rise in price, and the demand will increase for quartz slabs produced at with raw materials that are more expensive, which will raise average price levels.
In addition, higher material costs will make countertops made from competitive materials more attractive.
“This will slow engineered stone countertop market growth in area terms to some degree,” predicted Hurley. However, he quickly added that engineered stone will remain the fastest-growing countertop material through at least 2022.
Others believe that the Chinese will find loopholes should duties be imposed, and inexpensive quartz will continue to be available with little, if any, disruption. The jury is still out on what will actually happen should duties be imposed on Chinese quartz, but we here at CountertopResource.com will be watching this story closely and keeping you updated every step of the way.
The full report of the initial USITC investigation will be available to the public as soon as June 29 on the USITC website.