WASHINGTON—Thirty-one U.S. senators have sent a joint letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, supporting the agency's decision to initiate an investigation based on the United Steelworkers' petitions for countervailing and antidumping duties against passenger and light truck tires imported from China.
The senators praised President Obama's September 2009 decision to institute three years worth of high tariffs against Chinese tires under Section 421 of the Trade Act.
“The relief that was provided helped to restore market conditions,” the senators wrote in their Sept. 15 letter. “Employment stabilized and companies producing here invested billions of dollars in new plant and equipment.”
But Chinese imports skyrocketed again after the tariffs ended in 2012, the senators said, and the USW's June petitions were the only effective response.
“America's laws against unfair trade are a critical underpinning of our economic policies and economic prosperity,” they wrote. “Given the chance, American workers can out-compete anyone. But, in the face of China's continual targeting of our manufacturing base, we need to make sure that we act quickly and enforce our laws.”
USW International President Leo W. Gerard issued a press release the same day, praising Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., who instigated the letter, and the other signatories.
“Today's letter demonstrates strong support nationally for the fair trade case made by American tire workers,” Gerard said. “China's unfair trade practices are undermining the growth of the U.S. tire industry and inhibiting other opportunities to the domestic economy.”
The International Trade Commission found 6-0 on Aug. 15 that there is “a reasonable indication” that Chinese tire imports are causing material injury to the U.S. tire industry. The decision was published in the Aug. 21 Federal Register. Final determinations from Commerce and the ITC are expected early next year.
All the senators who signed the letter were Democrats, except for Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Besides Hagan and Sanders, the other signatories were Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; Mark Begich of Alaska; Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; Cory Booker of New Jersey; Sherrod Brown of Ohio; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; Chris Coons of Delaware; Joe Donnelly of Indiana; Dick Durbin of Illinois; Al Franken of Minnesota; Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Tom Harkin of Iowa; Tim Kaine of Virginia; Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Mary Landrieu of Louisiana; Carl Levin of Michigan; Joe Manchin of West Virginia; Ed Markey of Massachusetts; Bob Menendez of New Jersey; Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; Chris Murphy of Connecticut; Mark Pryor of Arkansas; Jack Reed of Rhode Island; Chuck Schumer of New York; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire; Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; Mark Warner of Virginia; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.