WASHINGTON (Aug. 10, 2009)—Imposing trade restrictions on the importing of tires from China would put the Obama administration at odds with its public statements about refraining from taking protectionist measures in response to the global economic meltdown, according to a GITI Tire (USA) Ltd. executive.
“It is important to remember that in this case, there are no allegations of unfair trade practices, nor are there allegations that anyone has violated U.S. trade law,” GITI Executive Vice President Vic DeIorio wrote in remarks submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to address the recent International Trade Commission ruling that a surge in Chinese tire imports is causing market disruption in the U.S. tire industry.
“Rather, the ITC assessed the very narrow issue of whether imports of certain tires from China caused market disruption in the U.S. domestic tire industry,” he said. “The facts are on our side.”
DeIorio said the Obama administration agreed at a meeting in July of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministers Responsible for Trade to “avoid implementing any measures that have protectionist effects, even if they were compatible with WTO rules.”
At the G-8 meeting last month, DeIorio said, President Obama himself committed to “avoid further deterioration of international trade including refraining from taking decisions to increase tariffs above today's levels.”
Acknowledging the changing nature of the marketplace, DeIorio said the administration should focus on assisting displaced U.S. workers and the tire industry to help position them for future growth.
DeIorio also pointed out imposing restrictions could have safety implications.
“Already, we are hearing stories about Americans choosing to delay replacing worn tires because of their personal economic situation,” he said. “For tire consumers who can barely afford to replace a worn tire, an increase of 20 percent or more of the cheapest tire available—regardless of sourcing—is dramatic.
“This will increase the risk that some consumers will not replace worn tires when they should. It is an invitation to have more tire-related accidents on our roads.”