WASHINGTON (Sept. 4, 2008) — Titan Tire Corp. and the United Steelworkers are celebrating their final victory on countervailing and antidumping tariffs against Chinese off-the-road tire makers, but at least one importer of the tires is threatening legal action.
The International Trade Commission on Aug. 15 made a final determination by a 5-1 vote that the U.S. OTR tire industry is being materially injured by Chinese imports at less than fair value and by subsidies the Chinese government pays to OTR tire makers.
The agency's preliminary ruling of material injury came in August 2007, two months after Titan and the USW filed a joint petition asking for antidumping and countervailing duties.
In February 2008, the Commerce Department made preliminary duty determinations against the Chinese manufacturers.
The countervailing duty rates—to counterbalance government subsidies—ranged from 2.38 to 6.59 percent, while antidumping duties to counter less-than-fair-value sales ranged as high as 210.48 percent. The U.S. government began charging duties from that point.
Commerce adjusted the figures in July, and again when the ITC made its final determination.
In the final decision, Hebei Starbright Tire Co. Ltd. had its antidumping duties increased to 28.69 percent from 19.15 percent. Guizhou Tyre Co. Ltd. saw its duties rise slightly (from 4.08 to 5.25 percent) as did Tianjin United Tire & Rubber International Co. Ltd. (from 8.09 to 8.44 percent).
Xuzhou Xugong Tyre Co. Ltd., originally assessed antidumping duties in February 2008 of 51.81 percent, was excused entirely from those duties in the July and August revisions. Twenty-five other companies listed as “separate-rate” exporters were assessed duties of 12.58 percent, up from 9.48 percent, and all other tire makers received the 210.48-percent rate.
As for countervailing duties, Starbright's rate was the highest, at 14 percent. Tianjin was assessed 6.85 percent, Guizhou 2.45 percent, and all other producers 5.62 percent.
In Aug. 15 press releases, both Maurice “Morry” Taylor, chairman and CEO of Titan, and USW President Leo W. Gerard celebrated their victory.
“Today's decision is an exciting outcome for working men and women across the country,” Taylor said. “A level playing field has been restored in our OTR tire market, and the harm caused to the U.S. industry by Chinese producers will now hopefully be corrected.”
“Today's decision proves China cheats and that U.S. trade law enforcement is an important tool that will help level the playing field for U.S. workers,” Gerard said.
Bridgestone/Firestone, another major OTR tire supplier, said it supported the ITC decision although it was not an official party to the antidumping petition.
The Nashville-based tire maker repeated Taylor's statement that the decision helps restore a level playing field in the U.S. OTR tire market.
GPX International Tire Corp., a Boston-based firm that imports Starbright tires, said in a press release it will review the ITC decision and explore its options for seeking judicial review.
GPX accused Titan and BFS parent firm Bridgestone Corp. of hypocrisy and subversion of U.S. trade laws.
“Titan, who brought this case, was the No. 1 best performing stock on the New York Stock Exchange for the last five years,” GPX said. “For such a successful company to seek special protection from the U.S. government is not only an abuse of an important administrative process, it is dishonest on its face.”
GPX said Bridgestone is “the largest tire company on the planet,” and also the largest producer of Chinese tires in the world and largest importer of Chinese tires into the U.S.