Ninety-five percent of all Chinese engineered hardwood flooring entering the U.S. received a preliminary countervailing duty of 2.25 percent or less from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) earlier this week, according to Jonathan Train, president of the Alliance for Free Choice and Jobs in Flooring (AFCJF).

The AFCJF represents U.S. flooring importers, distributors, retailers and hardwood timber exporters, and was formed last month in reaction to a petition to the DOC/U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) by the Coalition for American Hardwood Parity.  

Train called the preliminary DOC ruling “good news.” Only three Chinese companies -- Fine Furniture (Shanghai) Ltd., Zhejiang Layo Wood Industry Co. Ltd. and Zhejiang Yuhua Timber Co. -- were chosen by the DOC for in-depth investigation for subsidies. Only one of those three -- Fine Furniture (Shanghai) Ltd. -- received a preliminary countervailing duty of 2.25 percent. The other two were not penalized.

In addition, 67 other companies that responded to DOC requests for information were also given 2.25 percent rates. According to Train, the 70 companies that received a rate between 0 and 2.25 percent are estimated to represent at least 95 percent of U.S. engineered hardwood flooring imports for 2011.

He also said that 127 companies were given a preliminary rate of 27.01 percent because they did not respond to the DOC questionnaire. Additionally, according to Train, many of the companies on that list do not focus on exports to the U.S. The list also does not take into account company mergers, closures or consolidations.

The preliminary countervailing duty rates are in effect until the DOC Final Determination later this year, and would be eliminated completely if the ITC chooses to dismiss the petition.