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TIA opposes possible Chinese import quota

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The Tire Industry Association (TIA) says it opposes the United Steelworkers' petition to place a quota on Chinese tire imports. "The association feels strongly that this measure -- despite being well-intentioned -- would not help in the preservation of manufacturing jobs and would be harmful to consumers, as these tires are often an affordable solution to those drivers with limited budgets," say TIA officials.

"However, the association also reiterates its long-standing position that all tires, regardless of country of origin, must be held to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards."

The Steelworkers claim that the influx of tires from China has led to the closing of American tire plants and the loss of thousands of jobs.The union wants to limit the import of Chinese consumer tires to 21 million units per year.

Union representatives, as well as representatives from tire companies that import and/or sell Chinese-built tires, testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on June 2. The ITC is scheduled to render a determination today.

While TIA "is sympathetic" to the loss of these manufacturing jobs, it also realizes "this has occurred over the course of many years and under a multitude of trade policy initiatives, and this attempt -- no matter how well-meaning -- will not result in either an increase or a preservation of U.S. manufacturing jobs."

"TIA believes that the proposal before the ITC would be the worst of both worlds," says TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield. "No U.S. manufacturing jobs would be either saved or created, and consumers would be denied a source of affordable tires at a time in our economy when every penny counts.

"Amy reduction in the quantity of tires imported from China would be in and of itself disruptive, as no manufacturing uptick here in the U.S. would satisfy the shortage this measure would create. Instead, manufacturers would have to essentially ration their products, thus resulting in shortages, outages and most likely, much higher tire prices."

A quota "would create a market disruption and cause very real harm to our member companies and the U.S. consumer. Our members -- by directly importing or contracting with suppliers -- are meeting the demands of a segment of the consumer tire market for lower-cost tires. No manufacturing uptick would satisfy this product segment, but instead could create a need for product allocation... in the best of times such occurences are troubling, but in today's climate, (they) could inflict severe financial harm on many retailers and on the motoring public."

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