WASHINGTON—The commissioners of the International Trade Commission voted unanimously today to authorize a full investigation into allegations that certain manufacturers based in Thailand are selling truck/bus tires in the U.S. at less than fair valuation, but a final determination by the Commerce Department on duties is not expected before late March, ITC officials said.
The ITC commissioners reached their decision based on testimony from a one-day hearing in early November and dozens of written submissions, predominantly from parties that oppose the investigation, which is in response to a petition from the United Steelworkers union, which is seeking elevated anti-dumping duties on truck/bus tires from Thailand.
Based on research it conducted over several months in 2022-2023, the USW claims that Thai truck/bus tires are being dumped in the U.S. at margins up to 47.8 percent.
According to a timeline published by the International Trade Administration, Commerce has until March 25, 2024, to make public its preliminary determination on the duties, including the antidumping rate and whether antidumping duties would be applied on all truck/bus tire imports from Thailand equally or if specific companies would be levied differing levels of duty.
Once that happens, interested parties will be invited to comment.
Commerce then has until June 10, 2024, to issue a final determination, taking into account any comments that may have been submitted. After that, the ITC will have until July 25, 2024, to review Commerce’s decision and issue its own final determination.
The issuance of the detailed final order is scheduled for Aug. 1, 2024.
All those dates could be postponed pending certain circumstances.
Meanwhile, the USW praised the ITC's decision in a statement issued Nov. 30.
“USW members take immense pride in making high-quality truck and bus tires, but the recent spike in imports from Thailand, underwritten by Chinese investments, put both their jobs and the communities they support at risk," the union said. "We’re gratified that the ITC in its preliminary determination affirmed our position and provided a path forward to protecting U.S. tire makers from illegally dumped products.
“USW members are highly skilled, but they need rigorous enforcement of our nation’s trade laws. Today’s decision is a step in the right direction toward leveling the playing field.”
In the end, the federal government's decision whether to impose elevated import duties on truck/bus tires from Thailand might depend on whether the Commerce Department officials reviewing the case believe in tier segmentation or not.
USW representatives told ITC officials at a Nov. 7 hearing at ITC headquarters in Washington that they believe the tire industry's tier-pricing structure is little more than hyperbole and that nearly all tire brands compete on equal footing.
Representatives of Thai tire producers and importers of tires sourced from Thailand, on the other hand, argue that their products are sold predominantly in the Tier III and Tier IV categories, rarely competing with Tier I and/or II brands from the U.S.-based manufacturers and therefore do not present a potential harm to the U.S. tire industry.