USW Seeks New Tariffs on PLT Tires

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USW Seeks New Tariffs on PLT Tires

The United Steelworkers (USW) union has filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions targeting passenger vehicle and light truck tires made in South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to Modern Tire Dealer statistics, these four countries imported 85.3 million consumer tires into the U.S. market in 2019, with more than half of that total coming from Thailand. Here's a look at those numbers, from the 2020 MTD Facts Issue:

Ranking in 2019 Country Imported PLT Tires
1. Thailand 45.1 million
2. South Korea 19.3 million
6. Vietnam 11.9 million
8. Taiwan 9.0 million
Total   85.3 million


According to the data in the USW petition, the value of the imported tires from these four countries has increased by 22.1% since 2017. The USW says the 71.1 million PLT tires imported in 2017 from Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam were worth $3.596 billion. The 85.3 million tires imported in 2019 were worth $4.391 billion.

The union has filed anti-dumping petitions for tires imported from all four of the listed countries, alleging that tires from Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam are being dumped in the U.S. market at prices below market value. The USW only filed a countervailing claim in the case of tires from Vietnam, which amounts to an allegation that tires made in Vietnam and shipped to the U.S. are benefitting from government subsidies at home.

"This deluge of unfairly traded imports hurt our domestic industry and workers, including many USW members," said USW  President Tom Conway in a statement released May 13 by the union. The petition was filed a day earlier. "Even though demand for (passenger and light truck) tires increased, domestic producers were still forced to grapple with reduced market share, falling profits and lost jobs."

Five years ago, the  USW obtained similar orders on passenger and light truck tires made in China and says that Chinese tire imports “have since shrunk dramatically, allowing the domestic industry to invest in new capacity in the United States."

That assertion about the fall of Chinese imports  is true. According to MTD figures, in 2014 Chinese imports of PLT tires topped 60.5 million tires. That number has dropped 94% — to 3.4 million in 2019, according to the 2020 Facts Issue.

But the tariffs on Chinese tires also prompted manufacturers and importers to move molds and production elsewhere — namely, to the countries now targeted by this USW petition.

The union notes that the petition is also “the first petition to contain a currency undervaluation subsidy under new rules the Department of Commerce issued earlier this year."

The USW has a presence at the following tire manufacturers’ United States-based plants: Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. (Findlay, Ohio, and Texarkana, Ark.); Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Fayetteville, N.C., and Topeka, Kan.); Michelin North America Inc. (Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Fort Wayne, Ind.); Sumitomo Rubber North America (Tonawanda, N.Y.); and Yokohama Tire Corp. (Salem, Va.)

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