Legislative Update: TRIB’s Stevens Discusses the Impact of Tariffs on U.S. Retreaders

Dec. 11, 2019

The imposition of aggressive anti-dumping  and countervailing duties on Chinese-made medium truck tires arguably has been the most significant development to hit the domestic retreading industry in many years, and the impact of those actions is something that the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB) is monitoring closely.

“TRIB has worked with and testified at the United States International Trade Commission on proposed anti-dumping and countervailing duties, as well as additional proposed tariffs put forward by the Trump administration,” says TRIB Managing Director David Stevens.

With duties in place, “we hope that the retread industry in the U.S. will continue to thrive and deliver the environmental and economic benefits that are so important to (trucking) fleets, governments and the public.”

In this interview, Stevens discusses how tariffs have helped domestic retreaders. He also details how retreaders can assist with TRIB’s legislative efforts.

MTD: Earlier this year, many retreaders told us they were optimistic that tariffs imposed on Chinese-made truck tires would create an increase in demand for their products. From TRIB’s perspective, are the tariffs producing the lift in business that was generally expected?

Stevens: I think many of our member companies hoped for a much faster uptick in business, but there was a lot of commercial truck tire inventory in the pipeline, especially since many companies expected that some sort of tariff might be put into place and acted accordingly.

We’ve seen the positive impacts that anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures have had on retreading businesses in Europe, and we expect the market in the US to follow a similar pattern.

We are starting to hear from more of TRIB’s member companies that their retreading business is picking up, and many people I’ve spoken to are on track to have record years. 

MTD: How will tariff increases, such as the one enacted this past summer, impact the domestic retread industry?

Stevens: Combined with the anti-dumping and countervailing duties already in place, the additional tariffs have provided added incentive for those commercial trucking customers and fleets that may have shifted to low-cost, low-quality, “one-time-use” tires, and encouraged them to come back to retreading, where an initial investment in a quality tire that can be retreaded multiple times delivers the best return on investment and lowest total cost of ownership.

MTD: What are other significant legislative issues that are impacting the domestic retreading industry?

Stevens: For years, the most significant threat the retread industry has faced in the U.S. has been proposed legislation banning or reducing the use of retreaded tires. This has almost always been at the state level and has always been based on inaccurate information about the safety and reliability of retreaded tires.

We’ve been successful in preventing legislation like this, as we’re armed with the facts about the safety and reliability of retreading, including multiple state and federal studies that have researched this issue time and again. 

MTD: Are there any ongoing or imminent retread industry-related issues at the state level that independent retreaders should be aware of?

Stevens: TRIB and our members need to remain vigilant regarding any legislation seeking to ban retreaded tires. At the same time, we need to be mindful of any unsafe used tire legislation that might go beyond industry recommended practices when dealing with the safe repair of tires. This is especially important in the commercial truck sector as we don’t want to unnecessarily eliminate casings for retreading that have been properly repaired by certified technicians and meet the standards set by retreaders and their customers. One example of this issue is Ohio Senate Bill 223, which recently became law. It limits the ability to repair and retread certain light truck tires that have been used successfully by UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, and others for years. 

MTD: How can retreaders contribute to TRIB’s legislative efforts?

Stevens: It’s challenging for TRIB to help on an issue if we’re somehow unaware of it. It’s always easier to get in front of a legislative issue than to try and modify a law or regulation after the fact. The same is true for negative press articles about retreading. Getting a newspaper to print a correction or retraction is so much more difficult than getting them the facts about retreading and having a balanced article presented to their readers in the first place.

“We always ask TRIB members to make us aware if they hear or see anything that’s potentially negative for the retread industry,” he says.

“That could be a negative press story, a law firm looking to stir up negative views about retreading, or local and state regulations that could impact our members.”    ■

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.