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China's "Dumping" Leaves U.S. Hanging...Its Clothes

Things you don't think about. China has been accused of dumping a lot of products on the U.S. at discounted prices, undercutting domestic producers.

Apparently no product is too insignificant to start a trade war. Not even coat hangers. You could argue China is taking the U.S. hanger industry to the cleaners.

The Commerce Department has made a preliminary decision that China is flooding dry cleaners and others with wire coat hangers "at 33.85 to 221.05 percent less than fair value." How do they come up with these numbers? How can you be 221 percent below fair value?

Commerce says wire hanger imports from China jumped 52 percent from 2006 to 2007 to $68.5 million. If each hanger is, say, three cents (a figure a dry cleaner friend gave me), that's 23 million new hangers. So much for recycling.

The cost of making hangers has gone up because of steel prices, and there's not much domestic production left. Who knew?

Commerce will decide by June whether to officially issue an anti-dumping order and make Customs collect a cash deposit or bond from importers.

What's next? What incredibly cheap product can possibly be worth conquering? Coffee stirrers? Toothpicks? Simon Cowell's wardrobe?

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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