The Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood, which represents US plywood manufacturers, released a statement saying it had filed an unfair trade petition with the US department of commerce and the US international trade commission.

It maintains that the imported products have gained an unfair competitive advantage over US manufactured plywood and calls on the government to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese plywood to restore competitive parity in the US market. The petition is seeking duties in excess of 300%.

The coalition is hoping to follow the success of the Coalition for American Hardwood Parity, which succeeded in securing combined duties of about 5% on Chinese engineered wood floor imports.

The Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood says Chinese hardwood ply imports have managed to capture about 50% of the US hardwood plywood market, up from a single or low double-digit share in just a few years.

The group’s counsel Jeff Levin said this growth was not achieve on a level playing field due to being priced at well below fair value. He also said Chinese manufacturers received government subsidies, while some of their raw materials came from alleged suspected illegal sources.

"Even more ominously, these unfair trade practices present a fundamental, if not insurmountable obstacle to the domestic industry’s ability to recover its competitive footing, even when underlying economic conditions in this country turn more favourable," he said.

"Price trumps all else, so it’s no wonder we consistently see the Chinese product undercutting the product made in the US by 50% or more. Ultimately, everyone throughout US commercial channels, up to and including the consumer, suffers."

The group’s petition has the support of members who represent about 80% of US domestic hardwood plywood production.

A preliminary ruling is expected next spring with a final ruling in a year’s time.