The Coalition for Fair Trade in Ceramic Tile’s misguided claim

The Coalition for Fair Trade in Ceramic Tile (“Petitioners”) have filed anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) Petitions with the federal government. The Coalition consists of U.S. ceramic tile producers American Wonder Porcelain, Florida Tile, Inc., Crossville, Inc., Florim USA, Dal-Tile Corporation, Landmark Ceramics, Del Conca USA, Inc. and StonePeak Ceramics (all members of the Tile Council of North America).

These Petitions seek the imposition of penalizing duties of over 400% on all ceramic and porcelain tile imported from China — floor tiles, mosaics, and decorative wall tiles.  The Petitioners claim these imports are causing injury and damage to the domestic ceramic tile manufacturing industry. We strongly disagree with these allegations and have formed an Alliance to oppose these tariffs.

Here are the facts

The problem is, American businesses, workers, and consumers will end up paying the price for what amounts to a tax on tile. The tariffs would kill U.S. jobs, close down businesses, and increase the costs of tiles across America. 

The Petitioner's objective is to lockout the market with 400% duties, making it impossible to import ceramic floor tiles, decorative wall tiles, and mosaics from China. This would result in decreased consumer options, higher consumer prices, and could force consumers to choose other flooring products.

There are tens of thousands of tile importers, distributors, retailers and installers in the United States, many of whom are at risk of losing their livelihoods if these Petitions move forward.

Petitioners are claiming injury to domestic manufacturing, despite the fact that US production has actually grown substantially over the past decade. Numerous companies have recently announced $70-$150 million investments in new domestic production lines and factories — investments that would not have occurred if the U.S. industry were experiencing injury. The significant and continued growth of the U.S. ceramic tile industry is unmatched in any other developed country over the same period.

In addition, Chinese imports have remained relatively stable over the past several years, with no huge surge in imports to cause injury to the domestic industry. China is also not the lowest-cost country of import, by far.

Importantly, domestic capacity can only produce approximately 30% of U.S. demand and most U.S. production consists primarily of floor tiles. Imports of ceramic tile are necessary to meet floor tile demands and provide options for decorative wall tiles and mosaics that are not produced in significant quantities in the U.S.

The vast majority of mosaics and decorative wall tiles sold in the US market are produced in China. China excels at producing a vast assortment of these specialty products. While small levels of production exist elsewhere, no other country is currently capable of meeting the growing U.S. demand in this product sector.

Current domestic capacity can only produce approximately 30% of the market demand; products must be imported to meet our domestic demand.

At this moment, due to a lack of capacity, manufacturing technology and skilled labor, the depth and assortment of these products cannot be replaced nor produced in the United States. Nonetheless, these items are included in the petitioners' request to penalize.

TCNA members and domestic manufacturers are also currently importing the same decorative wall tiles and mosaics from China for this very reason.

Lower cost import options from other countries have increased their market share over the past years, whereas Chinese imports have remained fairly stable.

What can we do?