January 30, 2001
News Release 01-013
U.S. FURNITURE PRODUCERS MAINTAIN STRONG
U.S. MARKET SHARE DESPITE STEADY IMPORT GROWTH, REPORTS ITC
U.S. manufacturers remain highly competitive in the U.S. furniture market because they have
implemented strategies that capitalize on their proximity to the market, production and
distribution technologies, and top quality design, says the U.S. International Trade Commission
(ITC) in its report Industry and Trade Summary: Furniture and Motor Vehicle Seats.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, recently released the report as
part of an ongoing series of reports on thousands of products imported into and exported from
the United States. Following are highlights from the report:
- Fully assembled mid- to upper-priced household furniture accounts for the largest portion
of the U.S. furniture market. High transportation costs for such furniture constrain U.S.
imports. U.S. manufacturers are cost efficient producers of top quality household furniture
and are the industry leaders in the production and design of motor vehicle seats and
systems office furniture.
- NAFTA-partner trade in motor vehicle seats has increased significantly because of the
integration of the North American automotive sector, growing investments in auto
assembly plants in the United States and Mexico by Japanese and German producers, and
the introduction of modular assembly for the interiors of automobiles.
- Furniture manufacturers and their dealer networks have overcome initial resistence to e-commerce and now embrace that marketing strategy to avoid losing business to
competing virtual retailers. "Clicks and mortar" are emerging as an internet strategy.
- Canada is the principal source of U.S. imports of furniture, followed by China, Mexico,
Italy, and Taiwan. The bulk of U.S. imports from China are low- to mid-priced, wood
household furniture and parts, especially ready-to-assemble furniture, that can be cost-efficiently shipped.
- East Asian producers have opened assembly/production facilities in the United States for
mid- to upper-priced, fully assembled wood household furniture. Higher profit margins in
this U.S. market segment are driving this strategy, although the lower-priced segment
remains dominated by imports from East Asian manufacturers.
- Canada's close proximity to U.S. manufacturing locations makes it by far the leading
foreign market for U.S.-made household and office furniture. Parts of motor vehicle seats
shipped to Canada and Mexico for assembly into finished seats or seat covers account for
the largest portion of U.S. exports.
- High transportation costs for fully assembled furniture greatly reduces the cost
competitiveness of U.S. furniture in other markets. To service more distant markets,
several U.S. producers of office furniture and a few U.S. household furniture
manufacturers have established fabrication facilities in Europe and Asia.
ITC Industry and Trade Summary reports include information on product uses, U.S. and foreign
producers, and customs treatment of the products being studied; they analyze the basic factors
affecting trends in consumption, production, and trade of the commodities, as well as factors
bearing on the competitiveness of the U.S. industry in domestic and foreign markets.
Industry and Trade Summary: Furniture and Motor Vehicle Seats (USITC Publication No. 3382,
January 2001) will be available on the ITC Internet web site at www.usitc.gov. A printed copy
may be ordered without charge by calling 202-205-1809, or by writing the Office of the
Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.
Requests may be faxed to 202-205-2104.
-- 30 --