There often are times in life when two groups of people can look at the same data and information and arrive at an opposite conclusion. That is the case with the six commissioners of the U.S. International Trade Commission, who decided the question of whether there would be countervailing and antidumping duties imposed on imports of passenger and light truck tires from China.
The ITC voted 3-3 on whether material injury existed in the U.S. tire industry because of these imports. A 3-3 vote is an affirmative vote at the ITC.
All six commissioners agreed that Chinese imports skyrocketed between 2012-14, after the Section 421 tariffs lapsed. They also agreed, however, that financially the domestic industry did well during that period.
Three commissioners argued that other factors—such as increased demand and low raw materials prices—were responsible for the domestic industry's financial success, and that Chinese imports were responsible for lower sales volume, prices, output, market share and employment.
Three commissioners, however, argued that the domestic industry's lower market share and prices were due to circumstances other than Chinese imports. They also argued that output and employment in fact held steady during the period.
The United Steelworkers union started this round of trade hearings, petitioning last year for relief. The USW claimed that after the three years of higher tariffs expired in September 2012, that the flood of Chinese imports started spiking again almost immediately.
The three commissioners voting to put duties back on the Chinese imports saw things as the union did. The three dissenting commissioners didn't see the correlation in the same manner. They maintained that the industry's top producers were focusing on higher-margin premium tires, and that the 84 percent jump in imports during the “period of investigation,” as the official wording goes, didn't result in material injury to the domestic tire industry.
In baseball, the saying goes that a “tie goes to the runner.” In this case, the tie goes to the USW.