MADISON, Tenn.—Marangoni Tread North America Inc. has launched a petition drive to spur the Trump administration to reconsider the U.S. Commerce Department's decision to not impose duties on imports of truck tires from China.
The petition, which cites the threat to the U.S. retreading industry that low-priced imports represents, is addressed to President Donald Trump and challenges him to "honor his campaign promise by taking appropriate action to ensure America First."
Specifically, the petition requests the administration fill the vacancy on the U.S. International Trade Commission so the "full commission can review this important case." It also asks the president to direct the Commerce Department and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative "to judiciously monitor imports of truck and bus tires until such time as the case can be fully adjudicated."
The petition states the "entire retread industry was shocked and outraged" at Commerce's Feb. 22 decision that the Chinese imports had not caused the U.S. truck tire industry material injury and thus did not warrant the imposition of countervailing and/or antidumping duties.
The petition is online at the whitehouse.gov's "We the People" page. Marangoni notes on its home page that the industry needs to drum up 99,996 signatures by June 25 to get a response from the White House.
The initiative for the petition drive first surfaced at the North American Tire & Retread Expo in New Orleans April 19-21, where dozens of retread industry representatives were gathered in seven weeks after the Commerce Department's unexpected decision to not take action against the rising level of truck tires imported from China.
The preamble to the petition outlines the U.S. retreading industry's place in and contributions to the U.S. economy, noting that the industry employs more than 60,000 and generates $3.2 billion in revenue. Retreads represent about half of the U.S. truck/bus tire replacement tire market.
The petition notes that the number of "low quality" Chinese truck tires being sold at "less than fair market value" escalated in 2016 and as a result "eradicated more than 4 million units from the U.S. retreading industry."
"This trend represents the potential destruction of another U.S.-based manufacturing industry supporting over 50,000 U.S. jobs in retreading and related industries," the petition states.
China exported 7.63 million truck/bus tires to the U.S. last year, which was down 14.4 percent from 2015, according to Department of Commerce data. China has been the U.S.'s No. 1 source of imported truck tires for the past 12 years, accounting for as high as 63 percent of all imports in 2014.
In terms of units, China-sourced tires represented 55 percent of the 13.9 million truck tires imported in 2016. The average declared customs value of a Chinese truck tire last year was $102.84, less than three-fourths that of the overall average and less than half the value of tires imported from more developed countries.
The petition also cites the environmental and health benefits that truck tire retreading provides.
On the environmental side, the petition states that the raw materials and energy needed for a retread a truck tire represent seven gallons of oil vs. 22 gallons for a new tire.
In addition, the "health impact alone should be enough to warrant tariffs since, the amount of low-cost, low-quality Chinese tires being diverted to the landfill or illegally dumped could also lead to an increase in disease-carrying mosquitoes."
The Marangoni-led initiative follows by six weeks the filing of a complaint by the United Steelworkers union with the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) seeking judicial review of the ITC's recent negative determination in the U.S. govrenment's investigation of truck and bus tire imports from China.
It was the USW's petition to the ITC in January 2016 that led to the agency's investigation.
In additon, the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau issued a statement in mid-March expressing its disappointment in the ITC decision and said at the time it was "exploring all the available options to promote and defend the retread industry at a critical time in the industry's history."