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ITC to investigate Chinese tire import “threat” to U.S.

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Are Chinese tire imports hurting U.S. business?

ITC investigates Chinese tire import “threat” to U.S.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has confirmed it will investigate cheap Chinese truck and bus tire imports allegedly being subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.

The ITC voted 4-2 to proceed with the investigation on March 11, after determining there was a “reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of truck and bus tires from China.”

United Steelworkers (USW), which lodged the original petition with the ITC in January this year, applauded the decision, with USW international president Leo W. Gerard saying China was “stealing” American jobs and its “unfair trade practices” needed to be stopped.

“China’s ongoing attack on our members’ jobs and the U.S. manufacturing base is unacceptable,” he said. “In a period of strong domestic demand in this sector, the American industry has seen all the new opportunities go offshore, with China causing the most problems.

“Chinese dumping and subsidization totally distort the U.S. tire market and other manufactured products. They fight for their own industry and jobs by targeting the U.S. market. It is our responsibility to fight for our own people.”

According to the USW’s petition, imports from China have grown from 6.3 million truck and bus tires in 2012 to 8.4 million tires in 2014 — an increase of 33 percent. The USW says American truck and bus tire producer shipments declined by 7.8 percent despite an overall demand for those tires expanding during the 2012-2015 period, while China captured an increased share of apparent consumption of 6.8 percent from 2012-14.

Second petition against Chinese tire imports

This is the second petition USW has filed against Chinese tire imports this year. On January 8 it joined with Titan International to file a similar petition against cheap off-the-road (OTR) tire imports from China, India and Sri Lanka, claiming they were harming the domestic OTR tire-producing industry and affecting American jobs.

However, on February 19 the ITC voted to continue its investigations into those tires imported from India and Sri Lanka but would not look further at Chinese OTR imports, saying they were “negligible.”

Titan chief executive and chairman Maurice Taylor said the company was disappointed at that decision and was consulting with lawyers with a view to taking legal action against U.S. importers of Chinese OTR tires that he claimed were “gaming the system.”

“We have also asked our lawyers to look at various federal laws to see if there are any grounds to seek civil relief against any importers for fraud regarding the tire/wheel assemblies to avoid duties,” Taylor said. “We are gathering all the information. We don’t run away from a fight.”

However USW has a reason to be hopeful; in 2014 it won a trade case against passenger vehicle and light truck tire imports from China, with those imports now covered by duty orders.

Following the ITC’s most recent decision, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue to conduct its investigations on imports of Chinese truck and bus tires with its preliminary countervailing duty determination due on or about April 25 and its preliminary antidumping duty determinations due on or about July 7.

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