Stone World magazine spoke with Vineet Malik of Stone Showcase about the coalition he is part of that is addressing the tariffs, antidumping and how the fabricator, big or small, can have their voice heard.
SW: Talk a bit about your coalition, who you guys are and how you got started.
VM: Our coalition consists of leading importers and fabricators and was formed in response to Cambria’s petition. This coalition includes, but is not limited to: Stone Showcase, Absolute Stone, Bedrock Quartz, Cosmos, Universal Granite and Marble, and Reliance Quartz. The coalition is represented by William Perry from the law firm Harris Bricken. Mr. Perry is a leading expert in the field of international trade law, and specializes in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and has a blog called US- China Trade War. Prior to entering private practice, from October 1980 to May 1987, Mr. Perry was an attorney with the Office of General Counsel, U.S. International Trade Commission ("ITC"), and Office of Chief Counsel and Office of Antidumping Investigations, U.S. Department of Commerce. Since 1991, Mr. Perry has won more than 50 antidumping and countervailing duty cases for Chinese producers/exporters and US importers including the stainless-steel sinks case.
The primary purpose and mission of the coalition is to create a foundation and platform for fabricators of all sizes to be heard. Through this process Cambria is trying to muscle its way through the investigation and have the DOC and ITC ignore the fabricators as it claims that the fabricators do not represent the domestic industry.
SW: As far as the tariffs, what do fabricators need to know about them? How will it affect them?
VM: The ruling of this case can set a precedent for future cases.
Due to the political climate today, many are confusing the tariffs with the current US- China trade war.
The impact of duties can effect current business operations and thus have a negative impact on the industry.
Transshipment: Sending good from China to another country and then re-exporting is not allowed.
Fabricators may already be locked into pricing on jobs where quartz was priced out months ago. The inability to adjust their pricing with the unforeseen change in quartz pricing (and inability to purchase quartz at previous price points) could put some fabricators at financial risk. Likewise the imposition of retroactive duties as filed in the latest Critical circumstances petition by Cambria can have significant impact on many importers and fabricators.
These tariffs are quite significant and will be in place for many years, if not permanently.
SW: How is your coalition helping/educating fabricators?
VM: TRANSPARENCY: Stone Showcase has created a site www.quartzcoalition.com allowing fabricators to get up-to-date filings and transcripts of all documents pertaining to the case. The site has quick links to key facts that were presented during hearings and rulings that have been made.
ONE ON ONE MEETINGS WITH FAB SHOPS: The coalition has taken the time to train their sales teams so that they can educate their fabricators regarding the key facts of this case.
PETITION: Informing the fabricators on the petition filed by Cambria. We have highlighted the claims made by Cambria.
CV/AD DUTIES. We have found that many fabricators are confused regarding Countervailing Duties (CV) and Antidumping Duties (AD). Furthermore, many fabricators believe these duties are an extension of the current US-China Trade War tariff, which they are not.
DOMESTIC INDUSTRY: Lastly, we are asking the fabricators if they believe they are a part of the domestic quartz industry. Cambria has been adamant with the ITC and DOC that the fabricators do not make up the industry. Their assertion is that fabricators operate out of, “fabrication facility which a small one could be as few as two people or handful, a family, together with a saw and a router creating the counter top” and that does not qualify them to heard. Furthermore they continue to diminish the expertise needed by the fabricator to cut and shape the stone.
We have created a microsite to educate fabricators. Our microsite contains convenient links to all official documents for the case to date, as well as summaries of all actions taken by commerce and by Cambria, the latest updates to the case in chronological order, a timeline for the case, and three ways for fabricators to get involved and take action.
SW: What have you guys done so that fabricators can voice their opinion about tariffs?
VM: Our website www.quartzcoalition.com enables fabricators to get up-to-date information regarding the case. The site allows fabricators of quartz surfaces to voices their opinion on the case, whether it is positive or negative. Their opinions are then directly communicated through our coalition to the ITC and DOC investigators on the case. We have had an overwhelming response from fabricators as they become aware of the issues at hand. Responding to the call to action makes them a part of this process. Not only has does our site enable fabricators to voice their opinion to the DOC and ITC, but it allows fabricators to write to their State Senators and US Congress Representative. By entering their zip code fabricators can identify their representative and write a letter expressing their concerns regarding this case. To date we have mailed over 200 letters to congress.
Our success will depend on the outcome of this case, however we have had a promising response to the site and we have had a few fabricators receive calls from Senator Lindsay Graham and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office to learn more about the effects of this ruling. Senators want to understand the impact that this ruling can have on their constituents, and want to see that this is an issue that is important to them.
SW: What is your goal in the end for your coalition and fabricators?
VM: Ultimately it is our goal to overturn the preliminary ruling, but most importantly we want to ensure that fabricators are included in the ITC and DOC investigation. It is exceedingly important to this coalition that fabricators are accurately portrayed. Cambria is misleading our Government on the essential role of fabricators in the U.S. quartz manufacturing industry. This is evident in the petition filed by Cambria as well as the hearing that was conducted back in May. Cambria has marginalized the contribution by fabricators. It is the coalition’s belief that when measured by dollars per square foot of annual output U.S. fabricators relative to the slab manufacturers (e.g., Cambria):
(i) invest more in capital equipment,
(ii) add more value to the end product and
(iii) apply more U.S. labor to a quartz countertop.
We believe that U.S. fabricators account for over 30,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs while the domestic slab quartz manufacturers provide less than 1,000 jobs. The high level of expertise that fabricators require is both diminished and disrespected by this petition. These fabricators must undergo significant training in order to be able to properly fabricate natural and manufactured stone, and they operate extremely dangerous and expensive machinery that requires substantial education and training. Fabricators are often individuals who have embodied the American dream, and work tirelessly to grow their businesses and provide for their families. We want to ensure that the role they play in this industry is both understood and respected. We know that our fabricators work relentlessly, and don’t have time to follow every industry update or case brought before the ITC and DOC. Therefore, we want to make sure that they know what is going on, how it could effect them, and that they have the opportunity to voice their opinion in the most time effective manner possible.
SW: Why is November 13th an important date for fabricators to know/be aware of?
VM: On November 13th the antidumping preliminary determination will be made by the DOC. If the DOC makes an affirmative preliminary determination then preliminary antidumping duties will be due on imports that entered the U.S. on or after approximately August 15th, 2018.