U.S. tire companies, like most manufacturers of goods these days, have faced a number of challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a recent rubber shortage, which affected some tiremakers more than others. However, there’s another, larger threat looming over U.S. tire companies – tires imported from Asian countries including South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In recent years, tire makers from these countries have imported and sold tires in the United States below fair market value. That prompted the U.S. Commerce Department to open investigations into these companies last year, and now, the International Trade Commission (ITC) has determined that these Asian tire imports do in fact harm domestic tire manufacturers, according to Reuters.
As a result, the Commerce Department “will issue antidumping duty orders on imports of these products from Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, and a countervailing duty order on imports of these products from Vietnam.” “We’re grateful that the ITC affirmed what USW members see every day: a deliberate effort to undercut our domestic industry and overtake our market,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International (which is representing U.S. tire plant workers) President Tom Conway.
Last year, the U.S. imported $4.4 billion in tires from these four Asian countries, a number that has grown by 20 percent since 2017. Previously, the USW went after Chinese tire imports back in 2015, which dramatically reduced the number of tires flowing into the U.S. from the country. That allowed American tire makers like Michelin, Goodyear, Cooper, Sumitomo, and Yokohama to expand production.
Regardless, USW chair Kevin Johnsen noted that much of the damage has already been done. “Before we can get remedies, we must demonstrate harm in the form of lost jobs and reduced market share. By that time, American workers are already suffering,” Johnsen said.