WASHINGTON—At first glance, trade statistics for the first six months of 2015 appear to show that the imposition of import duties on Chinese consumer tires achieved to a great extent what the action's petitioner envisaged—imports from China were essentially cut in half from the first half of 2014.
Overall, however, imports were up slightly vs. 2014 as tire producers in other Asia nations—South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, etc.—stepped in and filled the nearly 12-million-tire void created by the Chinese cutback.
It also appears the negative effect on Chinese imports has bottomed out. The rate of decline has eased progressively month by month throughout the first half of 2015, starting at 74 percent down in January to just 35 percent in June.
As such, it appears the import share of the U.S. aftermarket will remain essentially unchanged, based on the Rubber Manufacturers Association's (RMA) recently released mid-year shipments forecast, which calls for replacement passenger tire shipments to grow just 0.1 percent and light truck tire shipments to fall 0.2 percent.
The effect on U.S. production, a key element of the United Steelworkers union's premise in filing the petition for relief from imports, is as yet unknown.
The USW, claiming Chinese passenger and light truck tires were damaging the U.S. tire industry, petitioned the U.S. government in June 2014 to impose import duties. The U.S. International Trade Commission, after 14 months of investigation, confirmed the dumping action July 14, putting into force antidumping and countervailing duties on China tires that the government has established.
The combined duties range from 45.22 percent to more than 120 percent, depending on manufacturer.
Imports of passenger tires from China were off 49.6 percent from January through June to 12.4 million units, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data.
It should be noted, however, that despite the precipitous decline, China is still the No. 1 source of imported passenger tires in the U.S., accounting for one in six tires imported.
At the same time, the average declared value of a Chinese passenger fell 5.7 percent to $33.77. Among the top 25 exporters of tires to the U.S., only Vietnam had a lower declared value at $32.83.
The average value overall of an imported passenger tire rose slightly to $52.56, the data show.