Washington —Specific types of tire cord-quality steel wire rod, tire cord and bead wire should be excluded from a national security investigation of steel imports, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association told the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Domestic suppliers cannot meet the demand of U.S. tire manufacturers for these steel products, said Tracey L. Norberg, USTMA senior vice president and general counsel, at a May 24 Commerce hearing on the national security implications of steel imports.
"Tire manufacturing is vital to the U.S. economy," Norberg said in her prepared testimony. "Tires manufactured by USTMA members safely transport millions of Americans and millions of tons of goods each day."
Virtually all of the steel wire rod used to manufacture tire cord for U.S. tire manufacturing is imported, according to Norberg. The stringent performance and quality standards of tire manufacturing, as well as quality and supply limitations of domestic steel wire rod suppliers, makes imports necessary.
"It is our understanding that electric arc furnace technology, used in domestic steel mills, is unable to produce consistently the quality of tire cord-quality wire rod necessary to make tire cord," she said.
A negative determination from Commerce against imported steel wire rod could cause significant harm to U.S. tire manufacturers and their customers, Norberg said.
"Any action that curtails the availability of the supply of tire cord or tire cord-quality steel wire rod would affect U.S. tire production," she said.
"Any such trade constraint could potentially have a cascading negative effect on U.S. commerce, since the transportation industry and the military depend on a reliable supply of tires," she said.
Norberg also said that depriving the military of reliable tires would also have severe security implications.
This was the first public testimony released by the USTMA under its new name. Founded as the Rubber Manufacturers Association in 1915, the USTMA announced its rebranding and expanded focus May 23.
The USTMA has 10 tire manufacturing members that employ nearly 100,000 workers in 55 facilities in 19 states, generating more than $27 billion in annual sales, according to the association.
The Commerce Department is conducting its current investigation of steel imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which authorizes the agency to conduct comprehensive investigations to determine the effects of any imported goods on national security.