A worker moves tires at a tire factory in Hangzhou, in east China’s Zhejiang province. Chinese-made tires meet U.S. safety standards, but can cost significantly less than from the major brands.
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The United Steelworkers union is alleging that unfairly priced tires from China are again flooding the U.S. market, violating trade deals and putting U.S. jobs at risk.
The Pittsburgh-based union on Tuesday filed trade complaints with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission that accuse the Chinese of selling passenger car and light truck tires at significantly less than market value. The USW also alleges that China is significantly subsidizing its tire industry.
The United Steelworkers represents U.S. tire workers, including those who work at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in Findlay.
“Unfairly priced imports of tires from China have resumed flooding the U.S. market,” USW International President Leo Gerard stated. “Domestic tire producers have been rapidly losing market share over the last two years. Domestic shipments have been undercut by skyrocketing import growth from China, and while our economy recovers, domestic producers and their workers have not adequately shared in the benefits.”
In 2009, the Steelworkers filed a similar complaint that resulted in the Obama Administration slapping a three-year tariff on tires imported from China. Though that action, which called for tariffs as high as 35 percent, did result in a decline in tire imports from China, analysts said it artificially raised prices in the United States.
A spokesman for Cooper declined to comment about the USW’s complaint on Tuesday, saying officials needed time to review it.
The USW says the number of tires imported from China rose by 25 percent in the first three months of this year. The union also alleges dumping margins as high as 92 percent.
“Simply put, China is stealing American jobs and the Steelworkers intend to fight for every one of those jobs,” Mr. Gerard said.
While visiting Cooper’s Findlay headquarters last week, Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) said the U.S. government needs to ensure tires sold in the United States are sold at fair market value and are not being “dumped.”
“There’s a lot of that in the tire business, including a 2009 case that was brought here in the Untied States to help Cooper and other companies like Cooper,” the Ohio Republican said.