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MTD exclusive: Import quota would hurt dealers, says Mayfield

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MTD exclusive: Import quota would hurt dealers, says Mayfield

"I don't believe a favorable ruling (in the Chinese import tire case) will bring back one job in America," says Jim Mayfield, president of Del-Nat Tire Corp.

Mayfield spoke during a commission hearing on June 2. The hearing was held in response to a petition filed by the United Steelworkers asking the government to place quotas on the import of Chinese tires. The union claims that the import of Chinese tires has led to plant closures and job losses.

The case "certainly has far-ranging implications," Mayfield told earlier today, June 16, in an exclusive interview. "I know without a doubt that the 75 stockholders in Del-Nat will suffer if there is not a favorable ruling."

The ITC is scheduled to make a determination on June 18. If an affirmative determination is made, the commission will devise a "remedy" and recommendations will be made to President Barack Obama's office, which will rule on the subject in September.

"We know the Obama Administration is under a lot of pressure" due to "commitments" that have been made, "at least in the media, to union representatives," said Mayfield.

During his testimony before the ITC earlier this month, Mayfield emphasized that U.S.-based tire companies decided "to either get out of private brands completely or be very selective in the private brand business they participate in" years before large quantities of Chinese-made tires began entering the U.S. market. Michelin Americas Small Tires, a long-time Del-Nat supplier, stopped producing product for Del-Nat in 1998.

As a result, Del-Nat was forced to source tires from alternate suppliers, Mayfield told the ITC. The private brand marketer now "does business with a number of (off-shore suppliers), whether they be from China, India, Korea, Turkey... we try to source from the U.S. when we can," but in many cases, the company has been unable to find what it needs domestically.

"In today's economy, many consumers are making very difficult choices," he said. "If we don't have value-priced tires, consumers will run their tires longer, taking risks that we'd prefer they not take."

A favorable determination by the ITC could very well hurt companies and the employees of companies that import and/or sell tires that were manufactured in China, he added. And he believes that a quota on Chinese tires will simply send tire importers, marketers and dealers to other low-cost manufacturing countries for product.

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