Akron, Ohio – Canada replaced China last year as the No. 1 trading partner of the US in tires. The value of China's imports to the US – impacted primarily by the cut in consumer tire shipments because of the elevated import tariffs on passenger and light truck tires – tumbled nearly 43% to $1.52 billion (€1.41 billion).
Import tariffs rejig US tire-trade rankings
Overall, the value of imports fell 10% compared to 2015, with reduced trade in passenger and truck tires influencing the change the most.
The value of South Korea's imports inched up 0.7% to $1.43 billion to claim third, while the value of Thailand's imports to the US rose 21.2% to $1.37 billion.
The latter trend reflected a 24.2% jump in passenger tire imports and a near doubling in truck/bus tire imports as Chinese manufacturers shifted production to plants in Thailand.
The value of Japan's imports fell 18.6% to $1.18 billion, dropping that nation to fifth on the list of trading partners from third in 2015.
Indonesia, Mexico and Taiwan were the next largest sources of imported tires, valued at $781.3 million, $722.8 million and $378.1 million, respectively.
The impact of the US's elevated import duties on Chinese consumer tires was quite evident, with China's shipments of car and light truck tires to the U.S. tumbling 30.7% and 22.5%, respectively.
As a result, China fell to third from first on the list of nations that export car tires to the US and to fifth from third on the light truck tire list.
Thailand claimed the top spot among nations exporting passenger tires to the US, leapfrogging South Korea in the process. Thailand shipped 23.8 million car tires to the US last year, up 24.2% from 2015 and more than double the 11.4 million in 2014, according to the data.
Thailand's role as a source of tires for the US is bound to keep growing, based on the number of tire plants that have opened there recently or are under construction.
Among the new plants there are ones opened by China's Qingdao Sentury Tire Co. Ltd, Shandong Linglong Tire Co. Ltd. and Zhongce Rubber Group Co. Ltd.
Germany's Continental AG and China's Shandong Yinbao Tyre Group Co. Ltd recently disclosed plans to build tire plants in Thailand, and both Bridgestone Corp. and Goodyear have announced expansions of aircraft tire capacity at plants there, while Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. and Vee Rubber Co. Ltd. are expanding capacities significantly.
The average declared value of a car tire from Thailand last year was $37.57, up slightly from 2015 but nearly 24% below the average of $49.12 for all imports.
The average value of a Chinese car tire import also fell last year, dropping 17.3% to $26.37, the lowest value among the top 10 countries on the import list.
Overall, car tire imports fell 2% last year to 146.5 million units, with six of the top 10 countries on the list showing lower shipments. The other big climber last year was Vietnam, which shipped 41.9% more car tires (4.29 million units) than in 2015.
Canada remained the No. 1 source of light truck tire imports last year, but Thailand slipped ahead of South Korea on the list by doubling the number of light truck tires it exported to the US last year, and Indonesia jumped to fourth by nearly tripling its volume to 2.45 million units.
Overall, light truck tire imports rose 15% last year to 27.9 million units. As reported earlier, the light truck tire category was the most robust in the US last year, growing 9.4% and 12.3%, respectively, in the aftermarket and OE sectors.
While unit shipments were up, the average declared value fell 4.8%, to $68.91, with prices ranging from $51.04 (Vietnam) to $94.31 (Taiwan).
China continued last year as the No. 1 source of imported truck/bus tires, despite shipments falling 14.4%, to 7.63 million units. Overall imports were off as well, by 3.8% to 13.9 million units.
The US ran a trade deficit in tires last year of $10 billion—compared to $9.69 billion in 2015—reflecting $2.54 billion in exports and $12.5 billion in imports.
Canada, Mexico and Australia were the top three destinations for tires exported from the US. Collectively they accounted for nearly three-quarters of US exports.