Black & Decker wins a round in battle with Makita

December 30, 1992|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

Black & Decker Corp. got a helping hand yesterday in its battle with Makita Corp. as the U.S. Commerce Department made a preliminary decision that Japanese makers of power saws, sanders and grinders are "dumping" their products and could be assessed extra duties.

In its determination, the Commerce Department found Makita and other Japanese companies were selling professional saws and cutting equipment for 41.17 percent below "fair value, and sanders and grinders for 38.98 percent below fair value.

While duties based on this determination will not be immediately imposed, the Customs Service will require within a week that the companies post a cash deposit or bond equal to the dumping margins.

A final determination by the Commerce Department and a finding of injury to the industry must be made before duties can be imposed. Those findings are expected in the spring.

The dumping case was brought by Black & Decker, the giant power tool and home appliance company based in Towson.

Imports of power saws, cutting tools, sanders and grinders from Japan totaled $129.4 million last year, according to the Commerce Department.

To counter Japanese incursions into the power tool market, Black & Decker early this year introduced its DeWalt line of products aimed at professional users who buy equipment at retail outlets. That $432 million market was dominated by Makita, which had U.S. sales of about $230 million last year.

Black & Decker spokeswoman Barbara B. Lucas said yesterday that the company was pleased with the Commerce Department's decision.

The trade case did not involve drills, which account for the largest portion of power tool sales. "We are not petitioning about drills at this time," Ms. Lucas said, leaving the door open for possible future action.

Mark M. Aase, general counsel for Makita USA Inc., said it was too soon to tell what the decision means for Makita. About half of the company's U.S. sales would not be affected because the company's products are made at its plant in Buford, Ga., he said.

The Commerce Department's finding does not necessarily mean Makita was selling the product for less than it cost in Japan, Mr. Aase explained. He pointed to an "idiosyncrasy" in the Commerce Department's calculations that compares average prices over a period of time in Japan with prices at a specific time in the United States.

Mr. Aase took issue with the department's conclusion that the price differences translate into actual dumping.

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