Rising imports, mainly from Asian countries, are killing off the furniture trade in the US according to the newsletter Wood Markets Monthly.

It says that last year almost one-third of furniture bought by American consumers was produced abroad and the US trade deficit in furniture has risen from US$3.66bn in 1996 to US$8.6bn in 2001.

The newsletter says American furniture producers are partly to blame for the increase in imports as they searched worldwide for new supply channels and trade partners to offset rising domestic costs. This stimulated foreign competition to invest in and utilise new technologies, designs and low cost labour to target the lucrative US market.

Wood Markets Monthly says American furniture consumption rose from US$23.6bn in 1996 to an estimated US$31.6bn in 2001. During the same period American imports of all household furniture more than doubled from US$5bn to an estimated US$10.2bn.