WASHINGTON—A group of six U.S. senators and four congressmen from Ohio, Arkansas and Mississippi is urging U.S. trade officials to protect the interests of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in China, where a strike by workers at Cooper's Chengshan (Shandong) Tire Co. Ltd. venture is jeopardizing the tire maker's ability to close a $2.5 billion merger with India's Apollo Tyres Ltd.
U.S. Senators Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; along with Congressmen Bob Latta, R-Ohio; Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; and Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Mike Froman on Dec. 18 urging government official action.
The letter was sent ahead of key meetings of the U.S.-China Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade in Beijing on Dec. 19-20 chaired by Pritzker, Froman and their Chinese counterparts.
In their letter, the congressmen wrote:
"Cooper has been facing a series of actions in violation of its rights as the majority owner of the joint venture.…
"In response to these actions, Cooper has requested assistance from Chinese government authorities at all levels, has appealed to local police and has attempted to seek justice in local courts of law, but the situation continues. Cooper management has made multiple attempts to ... reach a resolution. ... At this point, the situation remains unresolved and Cooper has suffered considerable losses."
The letter followed a conference call led by Portman and Brown's staff on Dec. 16 with administration officials, urging them to raise the issues during the JCCT meetings in Beijing.