AKRON—Canada replaced China last year as the No. 1 trading partner of the U.S. in tires. The value of China's imports to the U.S.—impacted primarily by the cut in consumer tire shipments because of the elevated import tariffs on passenger and light truck tires—tumbled nearly 43 percent to $1.52 billion.
The value of Canada's imports fell as well, but by only 1.9 percent, to $1.59 billion, a volume that was sufficient to allow Canada to claim top billing, according to Tire Business' analysis of the 2016 data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Overall, the value of imports fell 10 percent compared to 2015, with reduced trade in passenger and truck tires influencing the change the most.
The value of South Korea's imports inched up 0.7 percent to $1.43 billion to claim third, while the value of Thailand's imports to the U.S. rose 21.2 percent to $1.37 billion, reflecting a 24.2 percent jump in passenger tire imports and a near doubling in truck/bus tire imports as Chinese manufacturers shifted production to plants in Thailand.
The value of Japan's imports fell 18.6 percent to $1.18 billion, dropping that nation to fifth on the list of trading partners from third in 2015.
Indonesia, Mexico and Taiwan were the next largest sources of imported tires, valued at $781.3 million, $722.8 million and $378.1 million, respectively.
The impact of the U.S.'s elevated import duties on Chinese consumer tires was quite evident, with China's shipments of car and light truck tires to the U.S. tumbling 30.7 and 22.5 percent, respectively.
As a result China fell to third from first on the list of nations that export car tires to the U.S. and to fifth from third on the light truck tire list.
Thailand claimed the top spot among nations exporting passenger tires to the U.S., leapfrogging South Korea in the process. Thailand shipped 23.8 million car tires to the U.S. last year, up 24.2 percent from 2015 and more than double the 11.4 million in 2014, according to the data.