B&D; charges Japanese with 'dumping' tools


Black & Decker Corp., the Towson-based power tool and appliance company, has filed an anti-dumping petition against three Japanese makers of professional power tools.

With this filing -- the first such action by the power tool company -- Black & Decker joins the ranks of U.S. automobile and steel companies that have taken a tough stance against Japanese and other foreign imports.

The petition, filed with the U.S. Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission late yesterday afternoon, is against Makita Corp., Hatachi Ltd. and Ryobi Ltd. It involves professional cutting tools, such as circular saws, jigsaws and reciprocating saws, and all professional sanding and grinding tools.

The Black & Decker plants that make such tools are located in Easton and in Fayetteville and Tarboro, N.C., Black & Decker spokeswoman Barbara B. Lucas said.

The petition does not involve power drills, but the company is "evaluating" information about drills, she said.

In charging the Japanese companies with dumping, Black & Decker alleges that they are selling power tools in the United States for less than what they sell for in their home country. In that way, the Japanese companies can subsidize their U.S. business with profits from Japanese sales, Ms. Lucas said.

Black & Decker, the largest maker of power tools in the world, has virtually a "zero" percentage of the Japanese market, Ms. Lucas said. "It's been virtually impossible to penetrate the Japanese market," she said.

If the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission find in Black & Decker's favor, duties could be imposed on the imported power tools to raise their prices.

Of the three companies named in the petition, Makita is the largest importer of power tools, with U.S. sales of about $220 million. It also has a plant in Buford, Ga.

Roy L. Thompson, a Makita USA Inc spokesman, said yesterday that the company had just learned of the action.

Black & Decker traditionally has dominated the U.S. power tool market. But starting in the late 1970s, Makita started carving out a new niche, focusing on the small- to medium-sized contractor who buys equipment at retail outlets.

That market is worth $432 million a year and growing at 9 percent annually. Makita controls about half of it, and Black & Decker is a distant second with about 10 percent, industry analysts say.

To counteract Makita's success, Black & Decker launched a new line of tools, called DeWalt, earlier this year.

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