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Guest Opinion: President Biden, Let’s Stop China’s Cheating and Fight for Alabama Workers

In recent days, President Biden announced a new three-way security pact with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to counter the national and economic security threats posed by a rising China. In a statement, the three countries called out China’s “dangerous and aggressive behavior” and called out China’s militarization. The reality is that China’s trade practices and economic vision pose an existential threat to the American way of life.

As President of Bishop Cabinets, I want to make sure Alabamians understand how critically important it is that the Biden administration stands up to foreign countries like China that cheat the system. The domestic cabinet industry is a $12 billion industry that supports more than 250,000 American jobs and we have seen first-hand the devastating impact of China not playing by the rules.

For more than fifty years, we have operated in Montgomery creating thousands of good-paying, family-sustaining jobs. At Bishop, we are extremely proud of our work supporting the local community in Montgomery.

Right now, Bishop Cabinets and the domestic industry are growing. However, things weren’t always this good. In 2019, China’s predatory practices threatened the very survival of the domestic cabinet industry. The Chinese Communist Party was waging an economic war on domestic cabinet manufacturing and Chinese companies had taken over more than 40% of the U.S. cabinet industry in less than ten years. Working together a group of domestic cabinet manufacturers formed the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance and filed a historic trade case at the International Trade Commission (ITC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce to save the domestic industry.

In April 2020, The Department of Commerce ruled that Chinese imports were dumped and subsidized, and the U.S. International Trade Commission found (in a unanimous vote) that Chinese imports had caused material injury to the domestic cabinet industry. Commerce issued final anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) orders imposing tariffs up to 262% to protect our American workers.

During the investigation, a bipartisan group of 25 U.S. Senators, and more than 100 House Members joined together and signed a letter calling for these duties to be put in place. While we are extremely grateful to all our federal delegations for their support, U.S. Representative Terri Sewell continues to be a champion for all our teammates in Montgomery whom she represents.

As a result of this historic trade ruling, Bishop Cabinets invested over $1 million in new equipment to expand operations in Montgomery. In Ashland, Alabama Wellborn Cabinets is making a $15 million investment to add at least 200 new jobs, a daycare expansion, and has built a large new facility. In Indiana, Pennsylvania, Washington State, South Dakota, and across America’s heartland, thousands of new cabinet manufacturing jobs are being created.

Every year, the U.S. Department of Commerce reviews and recalculates the AD/CVD rates of foreign producers. The annual review is done each year leading up to the fifth year, at which time the U.S. Department of Commerce initiates a five-year Sunset Review. In November 2022, as part of our first review, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued their final determination which resulted in zero tariff rates being assigned for 16 cabinet companies.

Unfortunately, Chinese importers and some U.S. importers are regularly looking for loopholes in U.S. law to resume shipping Chinese cabinets to the United States. In recent times we have seen a flood of cabinets and cabinet parts come into the United States from Malaysia and Vietnam, which originate in China. The U.S. Department of Commerce is currently investigating.

The simple reality is that any policy change by the U.S. Department of Commerce will disproportionately impact minorities and the underserved communities who represent more than 40% of our workforce across America. As we work to engage with the Biden Administration, it’s imperative that we keep thousands of family-sustaining jobs here in Montgomery and across Alabama.

In the U.S. Senate, the Fighting China Cheats Act co-sponsored by Alabama Senator Katie Britt aims to “hold foreign entities accountable for malicious trade practices that harm Alabama manufacturers.” We applaud political leaders in Alabama on both sides of the aisle, who are standing up to foreign countries like China that cheat.

With all these reviews before the Biden Administration and foreign countries cheating the system, I urge you to call your legislators and ask them to protect 250,000 American cabinet jobs. Now is the time to stop The People’s Republic of China’s economic vision from becoming a reality and let’s put the interests of Alabama workers first.

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