WASHINGTON (Feb. 2, 2010)-A battle is brewing in the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative over duty-free treatment of tire imports from Thailand.
Three tire manufacturers—Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations L.L.C., Sumitomo Rubber (Thailand) Co. Ltd. and Falken Tire Corp.-have petitioned the USTR for continuation of duty-free status for Thailand-made tires under the Generalized System of Preferences. Thai imports are not a threat to U.S. tire production, they said, and the price increase for all imports caused by the tariffs imposed on Chinese tires last September make it inappropriate at this time to add 4 percent to the price of Thai tires right now.
The United Steelworkers, however, said allowing continued duty-free status for Thai tires would hurt American workers by undermining the effect of the tariffs on Chinese tires.
“These petitionersàshould be ashamed to seek an increase in preferential tariff treatment for an industry that manifestly does not need any preferential treatment in order to compete in the U.S. market,” said the USW in its submission to USTR.
A hearing on the tire makers' petitions is scheduled for Feb. 11 at USTR headquarters in Washington.