Companies in the lumber and home-building industry are in Washington D.C Tuesday. Some come from the United States, others from China. They have all come to comment on the Trump administration’s proposal to tax another $200 billion in Chinese imports to the United States.
Derrick Shaoulpour and his two brothers started the New York-based, HF Design LLC, 15 years ago. They run a small company employing about 20 people, importing and selling wood flooring from China.
“I know the Trump initiative,” he said. “He’s trying to push more U.S. manufacturing, but we don’t foresee that a product like this is being produced to the capacity or even the quality that’s being produced overseas in China.”
Panelists asked Shaoulpour if HF Design LLC has attempted to source its wood outside China.
“We have tried to source in Europe, and we have not had great success on that side,” he said. “They’re not as accommodating as working with China, but more importantly, the demands in quality. We have had production issues that have hurt our business and have hurt our customers in meeting their timelines.”
Wu Shengfu of the China National Forest Products Industry Association said increased lumber costs will hit Americans who want to buy a house, but can barely afford one.
“If the price goes up, they do not have the capability to afford to buy the new furniture and floors,” he said.
Xiao Zhiyuan from Jiangsu Beier Decoration Materials Co., Ltd. came all the way from China to speak. His company employs one thousand people in China. They make engineered woods, vinyl floors for export.
He responded to the idea that Chinese companies like his are undercutting American companies with lower prices.
“We as a Chinese manufacturer, we make it more custom-made. For some entry-level products, our costs are even higher, including tariffs,” he said.
Bicycle distributors and retailers also spoke to the U.S. trade panel.
“The bicycle industry is global in nature,” emphasized Matt Moore, General Counsel for Quality Bicycle Products, Inc. “All the major companies sell internationally and source internationally.”
“In the old model, [iconic American brand] Schwinn in Chicago [had] steel going in one end of the factory and out of the other end of a factory rode new bicycles,” he said.
But, the bicycle industry no longer owns its entire supply chain. Bicycle makers source parts from suppliers around the globe. “We all go to frame makers and assemblers in Asia and some in Europe as well,” he said.
Patrick Cunnane, CEO of Advanced Sports Enterprises, said the proposed tariffs will mean more expenses for American families during the Christmas gift-buying season.
“Ninety-seven percent of children’s bikes come from China, and especially less expensive bikes are coming from China,” he said. The proposed tariffs would put a kid’s bicycle over $100 a unit, said Cunnane. Right now, a child’s bike costs under $100.
As the hearings continue, the White House is showing no sign of softening its hard line on Chinese imports.
In a statement to CGTN America, White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said: “President Trump’s administration has identified specific problems that China needs to address. This includes China taking concrete action to stop distorting markets and forcing our companies to transfer technology. The United States continues to hope that China will make the appropriate choice to change its behavior and adopt policies that lead to fairer trade, freer markets and prosperity for all our citizens.”
A Chinese delegation will meet with U.S. trade officials on Wednesday and Thursday. The meetings will be the first time in months that American and Chinese negotiators will meet face-to-face in an attempt to get the trade talks back on track.