USW Urges White House to Address Current China Import Tire Spike

Contact: Gary Hubbard, 202-778-4384;  202-256-8125;
             Wayne Ranick, 412-562-2442; 412-901-8442;

WASHINGTON (Sept. 8, 2009) – The United Steelworkers (USW) today updated the White House on this year’s sharp spike of accelerating China tire imports, pending the President’s decision due Sept. 17 on the relief to be  provided under a Section 421 safeguard case.

According to preliminary government data for August, there’s been an extraordinary increase of passenger and light truck tire imports into the U.S. of 57 percent when compared to this year’s first four months leading up to the April petition filing. USW International President Leo W. Gerard testified last month that China tire imports had swelled in July to more than 42 percent over the same period from January to April.

“We fear that the ITC’s recommended relief will be inadequate for this huge spike of imports, and that September will be even worse. Ever since the ITC’s June finding of market disruption, we have watched with alarm as the Chinese have cranked up their exports of tires to beat the date any remedy is applied.”

Gerard states, “This is yet another attempt to defeat the beneficial effects of a trade remedy designed to address the market disruption and harm already caused by these imports.  The current imports spike from China will hurt U.S. workers further if not addressed in the President’s remedy decision.”

The USW has asked the Administration to make certain that the remedy put in place fully offsets the current effort by Chinese producers and exporters to ‘beat the clock.’ The trade commission’s proposed tariff remedy of 55 percent tariffs in the first year, 45 percent in the second year and 35 percent in the third year was based on the devastation inflicted on the domestic industry during 2004-08. 

The President can accept, reject or modify the recommendation of the ITC and his top trade advisors.  In light of the recent efforts by the Chinese to unload as many of its tires as possible, ahead of a possible remedy, the USW is urging the president for a higher level in the first year.

“We can’t get the critical breathing time needed to rebuild our market and stop job losses if the stockpiling of China imports are not offset in the first year,” Gerard declared. “The only way to make sure the remedy achieves its aim – which is the preservation of tire jobs – is to impose an even higher tariff, or a smaller quota in the first year to ensure the industry and its workers  receive the full measure of  relief needed.”

During the 2004-08 period covered by the trade case, domestic tire production workers have lost 5,100 jobs from four plants shutdowns.  Another 3,000 tire jobs have been announced for elimination this year as more plants close.  Nearly 35,000 retirees with health care benefits tied to the domestic industry are also threatened by the import surge, as are the workers in supply industries and in the communities where these plants are located. 

A government data chart is available on current China tire imports at:

For chart: ‘2009 Passenger Car & Light Truck Tire Imports from China; Jan. 09 - Aug. 09.

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