The U.S. Department of Justice has withdrawn a statement of interest made in the U.S. International Trade Commission’s antidumping mattress investigation.
The U.S. petitioners who filed the antidumping petition applauded the DOJ’s action, but the American Mattress Alliance, a group fighting the antidumping push, said the brief was withdrawn “only based on issues of ripeness, or timing,” and said that means the merits of the arguments made in the original brief still stand.
In late April, the Competition Policy and Advocacy Section filed a non-party statement of interest on the ITC’s docket. Two days later, the International Sleep Products Assn., the industry association that includes companies on both sides of the ITC investigation, filed a detailed response that asserted the lack of any factual basis for that statement. Within a week, DOJ has now withdrawn the statement, the attorney for the petitioners said.
“The statement of interest was not based on facts or any established process for gathering those facts,” said Yohai Baisburd, counsel to the mattress petitioners. “We were confident, however, 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nursing homes across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement of interest would either be modified or withdrawn. We are grateful that DOJ leadership chose to quickly research the facts and withdraw the statement.”
In its statement on the withdrawal of the DOJ statement, the American Mattress Alliance said:
“We greatly appreciate the Department of Justice for caring about the anticompetitive intentions of the petitioners during an unprecedented global health and economic crisis. We are deeply grateful for the Department’s careful consideration, insights, and arguments on the merits of this case.
“The amicus brief filed by the DOJ evidences the administration’s concern for all American companies, their employees and stakeholders,” the AMA statement continued. “We are sincerely grateful for the Department’s ongoing vigilance to protect the rights of American importers and to dissuade games of high-stakes corporate warfare at a time American industries should, rather, be coming together.”
In his response to the DOJ action, Baisburd said: “The truth is, every day, American companies and workers are being injured by unfair trade practices. Congress has given U.S. industries and workers the tools to address these unfair trade practices and the criteria the International Trade Commission must apply. Why they initially sought to inject themselves in a Congressionally mandated process designed to ensure fair competition for American workers and American companies is a mystery. It is heartening that senior leadership at Justice took immediate decisive action to withdraw the statement.”
Since 2017, more than 40 American mattress manufacturers have been forced to close their doors due to massive increases in the volume of unfairly traded imports – negatively impacting thousands of American workers across the entire country. Those thousands of American workers were thrown out of work by unfair trade practices, and the surviving mattress manufacturers have been forced to cut hours and wages for remaining workers, the petitioners say.
“During these times of substantial injury by reason of imports, the domestic industry mobilized immediately and are fighting on the front lines of this war against an invisible enemy,” Baisburd said. “It really is a testament to the strength of the America spirit that these companies and workers can be meeting this challenge head-on while also petitioning for fair trade in the face of surging unfairly traded imports.”