China, known as the world’s largest exporter of goods, is not without factories that produce almost all kinds of furniture at competitive prices. As demand for furniture increases, importers are willing to look to suppliers who offer high-quality products at relatively low prices. However, importers in the United States should pay special attention to issues such as tariff rates or safety regulations. In this article, we give some tips on how to excel in importing furniture from China to the US.
Furniture production areas in China
Generally speaking, there are four main manufacturing areas in China: the Pearl River Delta (in southern China), the Yangtze River Delta (the central coastal region of China), the Western Triangle (in central China) and the Bohai Sea. region (the coastal area of northern China).
All of these areas have a large number of furniture manufacturers. However, there are considerable differences:
1. The Pearl River Delta – specializes in high-quality furniture, comparatively more expensive, offers a variety of types of furniture. Internationally renowned cities include Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Dongguan (famous for sofa making), Zhongshan (redwood furniture), and Foshan (sawn wood furniture).
2. The Yangtze River Delta: Includes the metropolis of Shanghai and the surrounding provinces such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu, famous for their rattan furniture, painted solid woods, metal furniture, and more. An interesting place is Anji County, which specializes in bamboo furniture and materials.
3. The Western Triangle: includes cities such as Chengdu, Chongqing and Xi’an. This economic area is generally a lower cost region for furniture, offering wicker garden furniture and metal beds, among others.
4. The Bohai Sea Region: This area includes cities such as Beijing and Tianjin. It is mainly popular for glass and metal furniture. As the northeastern regions of China are rich in wood, prices are especially favorable. However, the quality offered by some manufacturers may be inferior to those in eastern areas.
Speaking of furniture markets, in turn, the most popular are in Foshan, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin.
The demand for custom furniture grows, according to Carissa – Decoration and Interior Design
What furniture can be imported from China to the US?
The Chinese market has many advantages when it comes to furniture production and can ensure the continuity of supply chains. Therefore, if you imagine some furniture, there is an excellent chance that you can find it there.
It is worth remembering that a certain manufacturer can only specialize in one or a few types of furniture, which guarantees experience in a certain field. You may be interested in importing:
sofas and armchairs,
dining room furniture,
living room furniture,
outdoor metal furniture,
The most popular furniture groups imported from China to the US in 2018 were:
furniture in general and parts of furniture (35.9%)
seats and parts of seats (31.2%)
supports for mattresses and bedding (9.4%).
China Furniture Customs Fees
Before importing any product into the United States, especially from a country that does not have a preferential trade agreement with the United States, you should always check the customs duty tariff. In some cases, this could be the key factor in determining whether your business will be profitable.
Most furniture falls under Chapter 94 of Section XX (Miscellaneous Manufactured Goods). All you need to do is find the product of your interest and the customs fee in the “General” column.
You also have to be careful when importing other wooden furniture, such as wooden headboards or bedside tables, because anti-dumping rules may also apply in those cases. These rules are established in accordance with the Tariff Act of 1930. You can seek guidance from the International Trade Administration on this matter.
Another important fact is that you need a customs bond to import furniture into the US.
Importing Furniture from China to USA – Safety Regulations
Product quality and safety are crucial, especially since the importer, not the manufacturer in China, is legally responsible for regulatory compliance. There are four main areas regarding furniture safety that importers should pay attention to:
1. Sanitation and sustainability of wooden furniture
Special rules for wooden furniture help fight illegal logging and protect the country from invading insects. In the US, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) agency oversees the importation of lumber and wood products. All wood entering the country must be inspected and subjected to disinfection procedures (thermal or chemical treatment are the two possible options).
However, there are other rules for importing wooden craft products from China, which can only be imported from approved manufacturers listed on a list issued by USDA APHIS. After confirming that a particular manufacturer is approved, you can apply for an import permit.
2. Compliance with children’s furniture
Children’s products are always subject to rigorous requirements, and furniture is no exception. As defined by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), children’s furniture is designed for children 12 and under. It indicates that all furniture, such as cribs, children’s bunk beds, etc., is subject to compliance with the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act).
Within these rules, children’s furniture, regardless of material, must be laboratory tested by an outside laboratory accepted by the CPSC. Additionally, the importer must issue a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) and attach a permanent CPSIA tracking label. There are also some additional rules about cribs.
3. Flammability performance of upholstered furniture
Although there is no federal law regarding the flammability performance of furniture, in practice California Technical Bulletin 117-2013 is current nationwide. According to the bulletin, all upholstered furniture must meet specified flammability performance and test standards.
4. General rules on the use of certain substances
In addition to the requirements mentioned above, all furniture must also meet SPSC standards when it comes to the use of hazardous substances, such as phthalates, lead, and formaldehyde, among others. One of the essential acts in this matter is the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). This also applies to product packaging – in many states, the packaging cannot contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. The only way to make sure your product is safe for customers is to test it in the lab.
Since faulty bunks can pose a serious hazard to users, they are also subject to the General Certificate of Conformity (GCC) compliance procedure.
Furthermore, the requirements are present in California: According to California Proposition 65, several hazardous substances cannot be used in consumer products.
What else should you pay attention to when importing furniture from China?
To excel in importing furniture from China to the US, you also need to make sure that your product meets customer requirements. Importing from China is essential. As once it has arrived at the US destination port, the cargo cannot be easily returned. Carrying out quality checks at the different stages of production / transport is a good way to ensure that such an unpleasant surprise does not occur.
Furniture trade shows in China
In addition to searching for suppliers on e-commerce platforms, visiting specialized trade shows is a great way to find a business partner and verify product quality in person. Since furniture is one of China’s main export product groups, there are several trade shows open to international visitors:
Jinan Furniture Fair
Venue: Jinan International Convention and Exhibition Center
Hong Kong International Design and Furniture Fair
Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Venue: Shanghai New International Exhibition Center
Gifts and home from global sources
Venue: Asia World-Expo, Hong Kong
C IFF China International Furniture Fair (Shanghai)
Place: National Exhibition and Convention Center
CIFF China International Furniture Fair (Guangzhou)
Venue: China Import and Export Fair Complex
Shenzhen Home Furniture Expo
Venue: Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center
Canton Fair (Guangzhou) Phase 2
Venue: China Import and Export Fair Complex
Famous Furniture Fair (Dongguan)
Venue: Guangdong Modern International Exhibition Center
Venue: Pazhou Complex of China Import and Export Fair
Many of America’s furniture imports come from China, the world’s largest exporter of furniture and parts;
The most famous furniture areas are mainly located in the Pearl River Delta, including the city of Foshan;
The vast majority of furniture imports to the US are duty free. However, certain wooden furniture from China may be subject to anti-dumping duty rates;
There are numerous safety regulations in place, especially for children’s furniture, upholstered furniture, and wooden furniture.