US DOJ withdraws statement to ITC questioning potential duties on mattress imports

01 May 2020 22:13

The US Department of Justice withdrew comments it filed last week in a trade remedy investigation on mattresses from eight countries.

The statement of interest is “not yet ripe,” the Antitrust Division’s Competition Policy and Advocacy Section said in a filing yesterday with the International Trade Commission. The DOJ today declined to comment on the matter.

The DOJ had expressed concern that imposing duties could increase mattress prices and affect the supply of mattresses to hospitals and other healthcare facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic. "The demand for mattresses has increased and will continue to increase significantly during the pandemic as communities around the country expand hospital capacity," said the DOJ.

The filing said that promoting competition could provide consumers with better access to mattresses, supporting the health and safety of Americans.

The DOJ comments, however, weren’t “based on facts or any established process for gathering those facts,” said Yohai Baisburd, counsel for US mattress makers seeking an investigation into the imports.

“We were confident ... that once DOJ became aware of the substantial unutilized capacity of the domestic industry to produce mattresses and the thousands of mattresses the industry continues to provide to hospitals and nursing homes across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement of interest would either be modified or withdrawn,” said Baisburd of Cassidy Levy Kent.

“We are grateful that DOJ leadership chose to quickly research the facts and withdraw the statement,” he said.

The ITC and Department of Commerce opened investigations in April on mattresses from eight countries: antidumping probes on Indonesia, Malaysia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam; and an antisubsidy probe on China — just a few months after trade authorities levied antidumping duties on mattresses from China.

The International Sleep Association, however, said in response to the DOJ's original statement that it was “inaccurate” in its discussion of the mattress industry’s ability to respond to the pandemic. The association, which includes both US manufacturers and importers, said it is neutral in the proceedings.

Leggett & Platt, Corsicana Mattress Company, Elite Comfort Solutions and other domestic producers, along with two labor unions, petitioned the ITC and Commerce to examine the possible unfair trade of the imports and whether foreign-sourced products harmed the domestic industry.

If ITC decides to proceed with the final phase of the investigation next month, Commerce will impose preliminary duties on the imports.

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