WASHINGTON (Jan. 12, 2010)—The United Steelworkers union is confident the U.S. will be able to defend its decision to impose double-digit tariffs on consumer tires from China with the World Trade Organization, which has agreed to hear China's grievance with the tariffs.
“We expect the U.S. will defend its decision vigorously, and that U.S. action will be affirmed as fully consistent with U.S. rights and obligations,” said USW International President Leo Gerard in response to the WTO's decision to investigate the U.S.'s decision last fall to raise the import tariff on Chinese car and light truck tires for three years, starting at 39 percent for the year ending in late September.
“While trading nations have the right to challenge any action of their trading partners,” Gerard said, “it is unfortunate that China has challenged a matter that flows from a provision in the protocol of accession that was critical to the U.S.'s willingness to accept China's membership despite the long road China had—and continues to have—to bring its system fully into compliance with WTO requirements and norms.”
The U.S. decided to impose the tariffs—which drop 5 percent each subsequent year—after the USW petitioned the government in April to take action against surging Chinese tire imports, arguing they were costing the U.S. tire industry jobs. It filed its action under Section 421 of the Trade Act.
The USW represents about 30,000 tire workers in the U.S. and is North America's largest industrial union, representing 850,000 workers in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy producing industries.