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Japanese demand will affect truck tire imports

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Bridgestone Corp. says Japan will need truck and bus tires in the aftermath of a 9.0-point earthquake that hit the country March 11.

Ramping up truck tire production is part of its recovery plan in Japan (see "Bridgestone resumes commercial production after quake"). The projected need in Japan could affect medium truck tire imports to the United States.

Japan is the fourth largest radial truck tire importer to the U.S., accounting for roughly 12% of all our country's medium truck tire imports. Based on government figures, Japanese manufacturers shipped one million tires here in 2010, up 38% compared to 2009.

To put things in perspective, China shipped more than 3.8 million radial truck tires to the U.S. last year (and an additional 427,000 bias truck tires). Canada was second at nearly 1.3 million radials, followed by Thailand.

Through the first month of this year, radial truck tire imports from Japan were up 76% versus the same month last year. The total represented 11.6% of total U.S. radial truck tire imports.

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