UPDATE 1-U.S. sets preliminary duties on plywood from China

Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:30pm EST

(Adds detail, background)

WASHINGTON Feb 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday it had set preliminary duties ranging up to 27 percent on plywood from China worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The move represents a victory for U.S. plywood producers in North Carolina, New York and Oregon who filed a petition last year asking for import relief.

The Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood accused Chinese manufacturers and exporters of "dumping" the plywood in the United States at prices 298 percent to 322 percent below fair market value.

They also asked for countervailing duties to offset alleged Chinese government subsidies given to the companies.

The Commerce Department's preliminary duties on Wednesday covered only the subsidy portion of the case. It will announce preliminary anti-dumping duties by the end of April. A final decision on both types of duties is expected in July.

The United States imported about $617 million of the hardwood and decorative plywood from China in 2011, down from $635 million in 2010. The wood is used for cabinets, flooring and other housing applications.

Washington has also imposed duties on wooden bedroom furniture and hardwood flooring from China in recent years.

(Reporting By Doug Palmer; editing by Christopher Wilson and Cynthia Osterman)