In this Q&A, European Rubber Journal, a sister publication of Rubber & Plastics News, asks Mary Xu (Xu Wenying), vice chairman and secretary general of the China Rubber Industry Association, about the effect of trading regulations and the slowdown in the Chinese economy for the Chinese tire industry.
Q&A: Mary Xu of the China Rubber Industry Association
What are the main challenges ahead for the Chinese tire industry?
Firstly, more and more trade friction from abroad, such as the United Steelworkers petitions for the imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports of truck and bus tires from China, just after the PCR case finished last year. China's tire exporters face some problem.
Secondly, Chinese labor costs have increased sharply, while duties are heavy, This will influence the competitiveness of Chinese tire factories.
Thirdly, Chinese has overcapacity on low-level tire products.
Fourthly, the Chinese economy has slowed down, and the automotive industry slowed down. This, again, will have a bad effect on the tire industry.
Over recent years, what do you see as the most significant development to have happened in the tire industry?
The most significant development of the Chinese tire industry is that it has developed very quickly. Now China is the no.1 tire producer and exporter, and more and more automated tire plants with high efficiency and technology have been built. In 2015, the tire production was 560 million pieces, the radial tire ratio was about 91 percent; whilst 10 years ago, our radial tire ratio was only 65 percent. Tire production was only 285 million pieces in 2006.
What single development would do most to improve the future of the tire industry, and why?
Tire technology innovation and tire branding are the most important factors for the Chinese tire industry in future. Because most Chinese consumers did not know about Chinese brand tires, or about tire technology. We are on the way, but it is far behind developed countries such as Germany, USA and Japan.
Looking into the crystal ball, what big changes do you expect to see in tires and the tire industry by 2030?
China will have less tire manufacturers and after Chinese tire labeling regulation works, it will enhance the quality of Chinese tires in general.