WASHINGTON (June 17, 2009)—The U.S. International Trade Commission will vote at 11 a.m. tomorrow on whether to grant the United Steelworkers' petition to establish a quota on Chinese passenger and light truck tire imports. The vote will be open to the public and the media.
The USW petitioned the ITC April 20 under Section 421 of the U.S. Trade Act, which allows U.S. industries and workers to obtain product-specific import relief whenever Chinese imports increase sharply. The union seeks a three-year quota on Chinese tires beginning at 21 million the first year and increasing by 5-percent increments over the next two years.
Eight U.S. tire plants have closed or will close by the end of this year, costing more than 8,000 tire workers their jobs, because of Chinese import competition, USW International President Leo Gerard claimed June 2 in testimony before the ITC. Gerard was supported by the testimony of 10 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, most of whom have or had tire manufacturing facilities in their states or districts.
However, major U.S. tire dealers and distributors said U.S. tire makers no longer manufacture the low-cost tires China imports, which means that Chinese producers do not directly compete with U.S. tire makers. All a quota would do, they claimed, is create a huge gap in tire supplies that domestic manufacturers are unwilling or unequipped to fill.
If the ITC finds that Chinese imports are disrupting the U.S. tire market, it will vote June 29 on the remedy and send its report to President Obama July 9.