WASHINGTON—The Commerce Department's decision to impose countervailing duties on passenger and light truck tires from China exempts ST-type trailer tires and other speed-limited specialty tires.
The exemption was sought by the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers and Recreation Vehicle Industry Association with the support of more than a dozen distributors of specialty trailer tires.
The Commerce Department's exemption is specific in that it requires tires to be considered have:
• The size designation molded into the sidewall must be listed in the ST sections of the Tire and Rim Association Yearbook;
• The designation “ST” must be molded into the tire's sidewall as part of the size designation;
• The tire incorporates a warning, prominently molded on the sidewall, that the tire is “For Trailer Service Only” or “For Trailer Use Only;”
• The load index molded on the tire's sidewall meets or exceeds those load indexes listed in the TRA Yearbook for the relevant ST tire size; and
• The tire's speed rating is molded on the sidewall, indicating the rated speed in mph or a letter rating as listed by TRA, and the rated speed does not exceed 81 mph or an “M” rating.
The RVIA and others asked Commerce to consider dropping the last of these requirements because many imported ST tires do not have such speed rating marks molded into the sidewall and thus would subject to possible antidumping and countervailing duties, the RVIA said.
Commerce did not grant this request, however. Many of these stipulations were suggested by the United Steelworkers union, whose petition to Commerce in May led to the government's investigation of the import situation and subsequent ruling for countervailing duties.
“So while the revised scope is better than the original scope filed with the petition,” said Michael Ochs, director, government affairs, for the RVIA, “we are still concerned that many ST tires will be inadvertently affected and subjected to the countervailing duties and potential antidumping duties.”
The Commerce Department's import/export statistics don't have a separate category for ST-type tires, but the majority of specialty trailer tires are 13, 14 and 15 inches in rim diameter, based on an analysis of specialty tire marketers' product literature and other sources.
Imports of tires in those sizes in 2013 were 8.26 million, 27.7 million and 42.4 million units, respectively, with China being the largest source in each case, accounting for 45, 40 and 33 percent of each size, according to Tire Business' analysis of Commerce Department import data.
The NATM, which represents manufacturers of light- and medium-duty trailers that are towed behind vehicles, has not as yet responded to Tire Business' queries for comment.
The ruling also exempts racing tires, recycled or retreaded tires, non-pneumatic tires, temporary-use spares (provided they're marked with a “T” speed rating) and tires “designed and marketed exclusively for off-road use”—predominantly ATV, agricultural, industrial, etc.