JOC Insights by Mario Moreno: Furniture Imports Expand

U.S. imports of furniture jumped 13.4% Y-o-Y in October 2012, marking its 16th straight monthly advance and totaling $3.8 billion in constant dollars. Through October, imports were up by 12.2%, in line with a rebounding housing market.

China is by far the largest source of U.S. furniture (HS code 94) imports, accounting for a 51.5% share in 2011 according to ITC estimates. A great number of U.S. furniture makers had to shut down operations over the years as they saw production and jobs being transferred to China to take advantage of lower wages and costs. In fact, back in October 2003, a concerted coalition of furniture makers and unions petitioned the International Trade Commission for money repairs, arguing China was dumping furniture into the U.S. market (Drayse, 2008). A duty on Chinese furniture was later imposed; however, furniture shipments from China to the U.S. continued rising.

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This outsourcing trend bolstered China’s share of U.S. furniture imports significantly from 29.3 % in 2001 to 52.8 % in 2010. Nevertheless, China’s share declined in 2011 and in 2012 year to date according to U.S. International Trade Commission figures, while the share of Mexico and Vietnam rose in those same years. Mexico’s share of U.S. furniture imports increased from 14.9% in 2010 to 15.8% in 2011 to 17.6% in 2012 through October.

In 2012, through October, imports from China in constant dollars were up by 9.8 %, but imports from Mexico, Vietnam and India were up by double-digit growth rates. In terms of volume I see a similar pattern, with containerized shipments from China nearly flat this year while shipments from Vietnam and India were up by double-digit growth rates.

More of Moreno’s trade and economic analysis can be by subscribing to JOC Insights or by following him on Twitter @MarioMoreno_JoC.

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