Rubber product trade deficit soars
ERJ staff report (RPN)
Rubber & Plastics News
Washington, DC – The US trade deficit, especially with China, has grown exponentially over the past 15 years, and tires and rubber products have been among the most vulnerable of manufactured goods.
That's the word from a top official with a US industry advocacy group, who backs up his statement with government data.
"Tires lost US market share more than twice as fast as advanced manufacturing overall," said Alan Tonelson, research fellow with the US Business and Industry Council. "The numbers tell me those products have been unusually easy to offshore."
Total tire imports to the US were $9.64 billion in pre-inflation dollars in 2008, said Tonelson, quoting figures from the US International Trade Commission. They fell to $8.1 billion in 2009, but grew to $10.6 billion in 2010 and $13.2 billion in 2011, he said. In January-November 2012, the latest dates available, US tire imports stood at $13.4 billion, up 11.3 percent from the same months in 2011, according to Tonelson.
There is no evidence that the 2009 dip in tire imports can be ascribed to the tariffs on Chinese tires the Obama administration levied between September 2009 and September 2012, Tonelson said.
The overall import penetration rate in the tire sector declined slightly between 2010 and 2011, from 48.7 percent to 48.6 percent, according to Tonelson. Total US tire output in pre-inflation dollars grew 25 percent between 2010 and 2011, compared with the 24.5-percent growth in imports, he said. However, the import penetration statistics aren't so good when tracked over time, he added
"The 1997 import penetration rate for tires was only 21.96 percent," he said. "Between 1997 and 2011, the import penetration rate rose by 121.08 percent—considerably faster than the overall rate."
Import penetration was nearly as strong in other rubber product sectors as well, according to Tonelson. For synthetic rubber products, import penetration grew 80.9 percent between 1997 and 2011, he said, though the 99.1-percent growth in U.S. output more than offset imports.
In miscellaneous rubber products, however, import penetration rose 118.1 percent between 1997 and 2011, while US output grew only 16.9 percent during the period, he said.
The full report can be read on our sister publication Rubber & Plastics News
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