Representatives from both the United Steelworkers (USW) and companies that import and/or sell Chinese-made tires, as well as a number of senators and congressional representatives, testified before The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) yesterday, June 2, regarding the import of Chinese tires into the U.S.
In April, the USW filed a petition with the ITC, asking for the commission to impose an import quota of 21 million consumer tires from China. The quota would return Chinese tire imports to 2005 levels.
The union claims that Chinese tire imports have led to thousands of job losses and "a growing number of plant closings throughout the U.S." (For more information, see Union seeks relief from flood of Chinese imports.)
The petition was filed under Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974 by the USW on behalf of its 15,000 members who are employed in the tire industry.
In a pre-hearing brief, the American Coalition for Free Trade, a group that represents the opposing side, says Section 421 is "strictly circumscribed to give the U.S. industries temporary protection from competition by Chinese imports, but only if those imports are causing a disruption in the U.S. market. Such extraordinary circumstances do not exist in this case."
Tire imports "are an essential element of the U.S. market. U.S. production capacity is insufficient to meet demand. That gap is in part a reflection of the decision of U.S. manufacturers to abandon U.S. production of tires in the mass market, including private brands, and to dedicate their U.S. production capacity to higher value, premium tires that are sold under flag brands."
During yesterday's testimony, USW International President Leo Gerard asked the ITC to "give the U.S. tire industry a fighting chance," according to a statement issued by the union.
The ITC is scheduled to vote on the case on June 29. It will then deliver a trade report on Chinese tire imports to President Barack Obama by July 9. The president is expected to make a decision in mid-September.
Stay tuned to www.moderntiredealer.com for more reports.