WASHINGTON—Representatives of Titan Tire Corp. and the United Steelworkers union sparred with importers of off-the-road tires at a preliminary hearing at the International Trade Commission Jan. 29.
Titan and the USW petitioned the ITC Jan. 8 for antidumping and countervailing duties against mounted OTR tire imports from China, and both mounted and unmounted tires from India and Sri Lanka.
The new petition covers both mounted and unmounted tires. In 2007, Titan and the USW petitioned the ITC for duties against unmounted Chinese OTR tires, and won their case the following year.
The situation is exactly the same now as then, according to Titan and the USW. Rising imports of the tires named in the new petition have seized market share and are driving down prices, production and employment in a declining market, they said.
“The OTR tire industry provides high-paying, high-skilled jobs with family-supporting benefits,” Stan Johnson, USW international secretary-treasurer, said at the hearing. “All of that is now at risk because of these dumped and subsidized imports from China, India and Sri Lanka.”
However, importers of the tires said the petition was a gross misinterpretation of the facts. A cyclical downturn in the original equipment OTR market, not increased imports from Asia, are responsible for Titan's OTR tire sales, and lower raw material costs, not increased imports, caused the decline in OTR tire prices, they said.
“Titan's dependence on the OE segment of this market has meant that they have suffered most from the downturn in demand at the OE level,” said Domenic Mazzola, vice president of engineering and OE sales at Alliance Tire Americas.
Titan also made some errors in business strategy, such as its emphasis on low sidewall (LSW) tires, according to Mazzola.
“LSW technology is fairly old, but Titan has decided to push this technology as a distinguishing feature for its agricultural tire line, where the purported benefits of LSW technology are still questionable,” he said.
The Commerce Department is scheduled to vote on whether to institute its own investigation of the Chinese, Indian and Sri Lankan OTR tires on Feb. 3. The confidential reply briefs in the ITC case are due the same day, with public versions due Feb. 4. The ITC will vote Feb. 19 on whether to pursue the investigation, and send its report on the vote to Commerce Feb. 22.
On the same day as the ITC hearing on OTR tires, the USW petitioned the agency for antidumping and countervailing duties against truck and bus tires imported from China.