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Bridgestone on USW petition: neutral for now

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Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC is the first tire manufacturer to officially respond to the petition filed recently by the United Steelworkers (USW) seeking relief from what the union considers rapidly increasing Chinese consumer tire imports.

The petition was filed with the International Trade Commission. (For more information, see "Union seeks relief from flood of Chinese imports," April 21, 2009, on www.moderntiredealer.com.)

In its statement regarding the petition "to restrict Chinese passenger tire imports," the company explains why it is remaining neutral for now.

"Bridgestone Americas supports free and fair trade as an essential part of our economic system. It's important that international trade is conducted on a level playing field that fosters healthy competition, leading to innovation, better quality and lower costs for consumers.

'In the past, we have supported efforts aimed at curbing the unfair trade practices, including the dumping of off-road tires into the U.S. market. Bridgestone Americas is taking a neutral position, however, with respect to the latest 421 petition filed by the United Steelworkers (USW) with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

"While we respect the process and the USW's right to bring forward such a petition, we are still studying the petition, and at this point have not determined whether there are unfair trade practices in this situation that would require intervention by the U.S. International Trade Commission."

A Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. spokesman echoed some of those thoughts: "We are still learning the details and have no position on the filing at this time."

Michelin also offered the following statement:

"Michelin has always supported a strong free trade practice that allows manufacturers to compete fairly in a global marketplace. Michelin North America agrees that existing U.S. trade laws should be enforced, including the assurance that all tire imports fully comply with stringent DOT guidelines and the NHTSA safety regulations.

"The USW filing appears to support a thorough and independent review of current market data regarding tire imports. Michelin will cooperate fully with any investigation."

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