4:05pm

Wed May 29, 2013
Business

Stickley Furniture owed $2 million over lack of tariff enforcement

Long time central New York furniture maker Stickley says it is owed a couple million dollars from the federal government in uncollected tariff fees on international competition.

The company alleges Chinese furniture makers are partaking in a practice called "dumping" -- flooding the market with cheaper products sold at a loss – which drives out competition.

A tariff on Chinese furniture was enacted in 2005. During that time, Stickely earned about $8 million from the fees collected on Chinese products sold in the U.S.

The penalty was renewed in 2010, but Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, says it hasn't been enforced since then.

The inaction by Customs and Border Patrol has prompted Schumer to raise alarm. He visited Stickley's headquarters in Manlius, near Syracuse, on Wednesday.

"We’re all for free trade if it’s fair trade. This is not fair. No one can defend what’s happening," he said. "There’s not one argument on the other side."

Stickley estimates it's lost out on another $2 million in fees since 2010.

"[Customs and Border Patrol have] let many millions of dollars of fees go uncollected, even though it’s the law. It’s on the books," Schumer declared. "if the Chinese company doesn’t pay the tariff, they don’t let the furniture in. They’re not doing that."

Schumer called on the agency to begin collecting back-fees and sort out a way to be better enforce the rules going forward.

Stickley opened in 1900. It employs about 900 people in Manlius and a few hundred more in North Carolina making high-end furniture.

Here's Schumer's letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano:

Sen. Schumer to Sec. Napolitano Letter

Related Program