BOWIE, Md. (June 17, 2009)—The Tire Industry Association is joining some of its most prominent members in opposing the United Steelworkers' petition to the International Trade Commission to place a three-year quota on the importation of Chinese passenger and light truck tires.
“TIA would ask the ITC to continue to support a free trade policy, and reject the USW's effort to impose a protectionist policy,” TIA said in a press release issued the day before the commission is set to vote on the USW petition.
While TIA is sympathetic to tire workers, their job losses occurred over the course of many years and a multitude of trade policy initiatives, the association said, setting a quota of 21 million on Chinese tire imports would cause great harm to both TIA member companies and their customers.
“Our members, by directly importing or contracting with suppliers, are meeting the demands of a segment of the tire consumer market for lower-cost tires,” TIA said. “No manufacturing uptick would satisfy this product segment, but instead could create a need for product allocation, resulting in shortages and outages.”
The USW, supported by members of Congress, sent its petition to the ITC April 20 and presented its case in a commission meeting June 2. Tire dealers and distributors including Del-Nat Corp., Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. and Tire Wholesalers Co. Ltd. presented testimony in opposition.
To date no U.S. tire makers have expressed an opinion on the petition. The USW claims the Chinese intimidated them into silence; the tire dealers insist domestic tire makers have no interest in the question because they don't compete in the lower-range tire markets the Chinese manufacturers serve.