The American Mattress Alliance recently reported that both retailers and the Department of Justice contributed statements and perspectives concerning the anti-dumping petition filed on March 31, 2020.
Here’s What Some Retailers Are Saying:
With home furnishing sales down 24.6 percent in March, and the March Mattress Retailer Survey predicting Q2 sales down by 50 percent, retailers and service providers are speaking up about the timing of a current antidumping petition.
Since they will not be polled by the Department Of Commerce, a group of retailers - many of which are not members of the AMA - are voicing their disapproval of the petition. They hope that the petitioners will take into account the state of the industry and pull the petition. The AMA made a compilation of video clips sent to them by retailers who are tracking the antidumping proceedings.
Dr. Craig Walker of Gil’s Furniture and Sleep Store, a small family-owned furniture and specialty bedding retailer, said, “This current petition proposal is absolutely thoughtless. It just doesn’t take into account the reality of the economics of our store…there is no dumping here. [These companies] meet the needs of individual customers.” He ends by saying, “I absolutely am opposed to any regulation of an existing model that is working for us.”
Another quote read:
“My name is Robert Handley. Along with Abel Elizondo, I am owner of MattressRX out of Boise, Idaho; a locally owned and operated independent mattress retail store with two locations. We would ask the Petitioners to please support our eight employees and our struggling industry by withdrawing this petition. It is damaging to our industry and especially damaging to small independents like MattressRX. Our ability to survive the economic realities of 2020 depends on this petition being withdrawn.”
David Smith, from Mattress Depot USA, a chain of 26 retail stores in Washington, said, “I’m asking at this time that we postpone any hearings on the antidumping, as this is clearly not the time to be dealing with this issue… I have taken multiple calls and orders for recovery centers, hospitals, and we have already run into a roadblock with our supplies with some of our local factories being shut down. To disrupt a supply chain during a pandemic crisis like this is unconstitutional…so please, on behalf of Mattress Depot, our 80 plus employees, let’s please shelve this for another time.”
According to the AMA, shipping and logistics companies would also suffer if the petition were to be passed. Barry Bernard, president of Ohio Intermodal Services, said, “On behalf of my 200 employees and independent contractors, I implore the petitioners to stop the petition. They have the power to help my business survive during these tough times. Please support us.”
Here's What The DOJ Says:
The U.S. Department of Justice submitted a Statement of Interest in regard to the antidumping investigation of Mattresses from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam, Inv. Nos. 701-TA-645 and 731-TA-1495-1501. The statement says:
“[T]he Department urges the International Trade Commission (“the Commission”) to consider the competitive effects of any action particularly in light of the ongoing national emergency related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) in evaluating allegations of material injury in the domestic market and deciding how to remedy any such injury.”
The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice “enforces the federal antitrust laws and promotes competition and thereby consumer welfare.” In the statement, the Department of Justice says:
Competition is “[t]he heart of our national economic policy.” Standard Oil Co. v. FTC, 340 U.S. 231, 248 (1951). And vigorous competition—from foreign and domestic sources—provides consumers significant benefits, which often includes lower prices. Cf. Pac. Bell Tel. Co. v. Linkline Commc’ns, Inc., 555 U.S. 438, 451 (2009)[…] Competition also provides consumers other benefits like higher quality goods and better access to those goods.
According to the statement, “promoting competition that provides consumers with better access to mattresses at competitive prices may support the health and safety of millions of Americans.”
The Justice Department concludes by urging the Commission to consider the current atmosphere when making any assessments.
"[T]he Department respectfully requests that the Commission take the competitive effects of the ongoing pandemic and its likely aftermath […] into account when assessing the extent to which domestic industry may be harmed by the conduct alleged in this case."
It is rare for the Department of Justice to weigh in on a trade remedy proceeding. According to Eric Emerson, Chair of the International Trade & Investment Group at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, “In my nearly 30-year career, I’ve never seen the Department of Justice weigh in before on a trade remedy investigation. Its decision to speak up now demonstrates just how ill-timed and harmful this petition is.”
Based on import data that shows aggregate mattress imports in the named countries have only increased by 2.5 percent from 2018 to 2019, the American Mattress Alliance (AMA) believes the petition is unnecessary and ill-timed.
No determinations on dumping have been made at this time. According to a fact sheet released by the International Trade Administration, “The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is scheduled to make its preliminary injury determinations on or before May 15, 2020. If the ITC determines that there is a reasonable indication that imports of mattresses from any of the eight countries materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry, the investigations will continue.”
About American Mattress Alliance: The American Mattress Alliance exists to provide high-quality products to American consumers with an emphasis on innovation and accessibility. Members include City Furniture, American Furniture Warehouse, El Dorado Furniture, Malouf, Classic Brands, Mattress Depot, RC Willey, Mantua, BedTech, Zinus USA, Maven, Mlily USA, and others. The American Mattress Alliance was created in response to an antidumping petition filed on March 31, 2020.