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US to impose punitive duties on Chinese tires


Updated: 2015-07-15 17:27:06


WASHINGTON - The United States will impose punitive duties on certain passenger vehicle and light truck tires imported from China, a US trade authority ruled Tuesday, despite China's repeated strong objections.

A US industry is "materially injured" by imports of these Chinese tires that "the US Department of Commerce has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value," the US International Trade Commission (USITC) said in a final ruling.

The Commerce Department announced last month it had determined that these Chinese tires had been sold in the United States at dumping margins ranging from 14.35 percent to 87.99 percent.

The department also said producers and exporters of these Chinese products received countervailable subsidies ranging from 20.73 percent to 100.77 percent.

As a result of the USITC's affirmative determinations, the Commerce Department will issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of these products from China, the trade panel said.

In 2014, imports of passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China were worth about 2.3 billion US dollars, according to the Commerce Department.

The department launched the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese tires last July, at the request of United Steelworkers, a US labor union. It was quite unusual that this case was brought by US workers rather than the companies competing with Chinese firms, experts said.

"None of the tire firms have joined the petition seeking trade relief; the sole petitioner is the United Steelworkers union," Tyler Moran and Gary Clyde Hufbauer, trade experts at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, wrote in a recent article.

"The case for injury is weaker now than it was in 2009, when market disruption was claimed. Moreover, US producers are stronger today than they were in 2012, when the 'market disruption' safeguard measures expired," they argued, noting that US consumers will suffer if the punitive duties are imposed.

Hufbauer estimated that the total cost to American consumers from higher prices resulting from safeguard tariffs on Chinese tires was around 1.1 billion dollars in 2011. The US invoked a China-specific safeguard to impose punitive duties on imports of Chinese passenger and light truck tires between 2009 and 2012.

"As always, the Commissioners on the USITC face political pressure to make an affirmative injury finding. In this case, the economic facts argue otherwise," the experts concluded.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has voiced strong opposition to Washington for its unfair and discriminative methods used in the trade remedy investigation, which breached the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and US domestic laws.

China has also repeatedly urged the US to strictly comply with international trade rules, prudently use trade remedy measures, and adopt responsible attitudes and actions to maintain a free, open and just international trade environment.