Tire Business report
Bowie, Maryland — The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has come out in opposition of a United Steelworkers (USW) union’s 3 June petitions to the International Trade Commission requesting anti-dumping and countervailing duties against passenger and light truck tires imported from China.
“TIA is sympathetic to the loss of US manufacturing jobs, but understands that this has occurred over the course of many years and under a multitude of trade policy initiatives,” the Bowie-based association said.
If duties were imposed and Chinese tire imports reduced, the resulting market disruption would do great harm to both consumers and TIA member companies, the US trade group said.
“Our members, by directly importing or contracting with suppliers, are meeting the demands of a segment of the tire consumer market for lower-cost tires,” TIA said.
“No manufacturing uptick would satisfy this product segment, but instead could create a need for product allocation, resulting in shortages and outages,” the association said. “In the best of times such occurrences are troubling, but in today’s climate could inflict severe financial harm on many retailers and on the motoring public.”
The ITC held a preliminary hearing June 24, at which representatives of the USW and of Chinese tire makers testified. The agency is scheduled to make a determination by July 18 as to whether there is sufficient evidence of material injury against U.S. tire makers to continue the investigation.
At an ITC hearing in 24 June, USW representatives argued that the huge upsurge in Chinese tire imports since the Obama administration’s Section 421 tariffs ended in September 2012 are clear evidence of the need for duties. Union local presidents also told of production and job losses at their tire plants since the tariffs ended.
However, attorneys for the Chinese countered that the strong operating profits of domestic tire makers in the past two years demonstrate that the US tire industry is not suffering material injury from Chinese imports or anything else.
“If current trends continue, imports from China will increase by 10 million tires this year,” said Terence Stewart, the Washington attorney representing the USW. Stewart also said that nearly 100 percent of recent Chinese tire exports have gone to the US.
However, attorneys and analysts representing the subcommittee of the producers of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers and the China Rubber Industry Association said the Chinese were merely regaining the market position they had lost during the three years of high tariffs.