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Importers anticipate slow supply through reopened West Coast ports

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West Coast longshoreman have returned to work but some tire importers expect supply to be slow for quite a while.

"We're looking at five to six weeks minimum" before supply gets back up to speed, says Mike Leverington, marketing manager for Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.

Kumho gets 100% of its tires from Asia.

"It might take six to eight weeks to catch up," says Earl Knoper, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp.

Jeff Kreitzman, CEO of China Manufacturers Alliance LLC, says his company is facing a two-to-three-week backlog.

Portland, Ore.-based distribution group Northwest Tire Factory LLC is receiving containers but does not know when needed items like snow tires will be unloaded.

Maxxis International - U.S.A.'s Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., warehouse is just-in-time, according to a Maxxis spokesperson, so "any delay affects our fill rate."

There's a shortage of containers in Asia right now due to the ripple effect of the lock-out, she says, and "some carriers are even suspending shipments."

A federal judge recently ordered locked-out longshoremen back to the docks at President Bush's request.

Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley Act, which lets the government obtain an 80-day "cooling-off period" when a threatened or actual strike "imperils the national health and safety."

The Pacific Maritimes Association, which represents nearly 30 ports up and down the Pacific Coast, originally ordered the mass lock-out in late September until the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents more than 10,000 dockworkers, agreed to extend a contract that expired last July.

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