2019 Hard-Surface Imports


2019 Value: $962,925,455 Change from 2018: -3.8%

Porcelain Imports

(U.S. dollars)

Porcelain is a new sector we’re tracking, and it also offers a dilemma. Unlike other hard surfaces, we can’t separate imports by sizes, so large slabs (or “gauged porcelain tile,” as determined by the tile industry) are mixed nominal 20cm X 20cm squares and other shapes. While the number isn’t solely indicative of the big slabs used by fabricators, it provides some guidance on market size and movement.

Porcelain’s decline in value (and volume, as shown below) is due mainly to something well-known to quartz-surface fabricators: tariffs. Eight large U.S. ceramic-tile manufacturers filed an unfair-trade complaint against China in April 1999, and the action eventually froze out Chinese products in the latter half of the year. Other familiar players in the tariff tiffs – India and Turkey, for example – quickly picked up the slack.

2019 Volume: 956,212,499 ft² Change from 2018: -4.0%

Porcelain Imports

(square feet)

The tale of the tariffs on Chinese ceramic tile – including porcelain – seems to be playing out at a faster speed than the quartz-surface epic. All the porcelain exporters after China, starting with Spain, ratcheted up production.

Will the quartz-surface experience repeat itself with possible tariff actions against countries like India and Turkey? There’s still plenty of time left in 2020.

2019 Value per ft²: $1.01 Change from 2018: 0%

Porcelain Imports

(U.S. dollars)

Porcelain wins the title of 2019’s Calmest Chart, where it’s hard to see the deviations on a year-to-year basis. It’s impossible to tell for the All Countries average; it remained steady at $1.01 for three years running.

The 2019 VPFt² for Mexico and China are also hard to tell apart on the chart, even when using a cursor to cover over the node. Both come in at $.073.

Due to a reshuffling of tariff schedules, there are no comparative numbers for 2015 and 2016, as with other sectors in the review.