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The Department of Commerce is moving forward with an investigation into whether Chinese tire makers are being unfairly subsidized by their government and selling products in the United States at artificially low prices.
The inquiry was initiated last month by the United Steelworkers, which represents workers in the rubber industry.
“The USW is pleased that the Commerce Department has completed a poll of domestic companies involved in the manufacture of passenger vehicle and light truck tires,” USW President Leo Gerard said in a statement. “That poll verified the union has official legal standing to bring the anti-dumping and countervailing duty petitions in a trade case against ... tire imports from China.”
The Pittsburgh-based union said the number of Chinese-made tires sold in the United States rose from 24.6 million in 2011 to 50.8 million last year. USW officials said imports were up 24 percent in the first quarter of 2014, increasingly putting U.S. jobs at risk.
In response to a similar complaint several years ago, the United States imposed additional tariffs ranging as high as 35 percent for tires made in China and sold in the United States. Those tariffs expired in 2012.
Mr. Gerard said a preliminary injury determination by the U.S. International Trade Commission is expected to be voted on Tuesday.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), who helped push for the previous tariffs on Chinese-made tires, issued a statement Wednesday praising the government’s investigation.
“I applaud the Commerce Department’s decision to investigate these allegations. And I urge Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to fully address any harm caused to American businesses and workers,” he said.
Findlay-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., which sells both U.S.-made and Chinese-made tires in the United States, has declined to comment on the issue.