WASHINGTON—The United Steelworkers union and representatives of Chinese tire manufacturers fired their opening salvos June 24 before the International Trade Commission, testifying at a preliminary hearing on whether the ITC should levy antidumping and countervailing duties against Chinese passenger and light truck tire imports.
USW representatives argued that the huge upsurge in Chinese tire imports since the Obama administration's Section 421 tariffs ended in September 2012 are prima facie evidence of the need for duties. Union local presidents also told of production and job losses at their tire plants since the Section 421 tariffs ended.
However, attorneys for the Chinese countered that the strong operating profits of domestic tire makers in the past two years demonstrate that the U.S. tire industry is not suffering material injury from Chinese imports or anything else.
The USW petitioned the ITC for relief June 3 under Section 701 and 731 of the Trade Act. In its petitions, the union said Chinese tire shipments had more than doubled since the end of the Section 421 tariffs—from 24.5 million in 2011 to 50.8 million in 2013.
“If current trends continue, imports from China will increase by 10 million tires this year,” said Terence P. Stewart, the Washington attorney representing the USW. Stewart also said that nearly 100 percent of recent Chinese tire exports have gone to the U.S.
However, attorneys and analysts representing the Subcommittee of the Producers of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers (CCCMC) and the China Rubber Industry Association (CRIA) said the Chinese were merely regaining the market position they had lost during the three years of high tariffs.