PITTSBURGH (Dec. 23, 2011)—The United Steelworkers union is calling on the federal government to either overturn a recent federal appeals court ruling that makes countervailing duties on imported off-the-road tires from China illegal or amend the law.
Saying the “court's decision undermines the integrity of our trade laws and the ability to address Chinese unfair and predatory trade practices,” USW International President Leo Gerard pledged to work with the Obama Administration and urged Congress to take action.
“The court dropped a lump of coal into the stocking of every worker who is working hard, playing by the rules and just hoping for a fair chance to compete against China's manufacturing and export juggernaut.” Gerard said. “The sounds of applause coming from Tianamen Square greeted the court's decision to legalize its cheating.”
Gerard went on to say that China's trade practices, according to Economic Policy Institute data, have affected 2.8 million jobs in the U.S. since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
“The USW has been forced to file numerous trade cases to combat China's unfair trade practices in the fight for our member's jobs,” Gerard said. “That's a fight we don't plan on giving up.”
At issue is the U.S. government's ability to levy countervailing duties—defined as an additional import duty imposed to offset the effects of concessions or subsidies granted by a exporting country's government to companies that export—on goods coming from non-market economies.
The ruling Dec. 19 by a three-judge panel of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington—in the case GPX International Tire Corp. et al vs. the U.S., Titan Tire Corp., the USW and Bridgestone Americas—states the U.S. government does not have that authority under current law.
The U.S. Commerce Department, acting on a petition by Titan and the USW, concluded in mid-2008 that exporters of Chinese OTR tires had received subsidies from the government there at rates ranging up to 14 percent of the value.
The Commerce Department estimated the value of imports of Chinese OTR tires in 2007 was $360 million.