Claiming that the Chinese government is trying to unduly influence members of the International Trade Commission's (ITC) examination of imports, the United Steelworkers (USW) union denounced the efforts and expressed concerns about a recently filed petition relating to tires exported to the U.S. from China.
Last month, the USW filed a major trade case against the flood of imported consumer tires from China that the union claims have led to thousands of job losses and a growing number of tire plant closings throughout the U.S. The USW alleges the domestic tire industry is collapsing under the weight of 46 million Chinese tires entering a shrinking market annually.
USW International President Leo W. Gerard called it inappropriate under our trade laws that the Chinese government would argue the merits of their case in what was supposed to be a general information meeting. They are not new to this processthis misconduct was totally improper and we commend the ITC for recognizing it.
Section 421which was passed by Congress in 2000 and added to the U.S. Trade Act of 1974is a tool that uses America's trade remedy laws to help workers and their employers combat an import surge from China when it does not play by the rules, thereby preserving a part of the country's domestic industrial base, the USW said in a press release. It enables companies, groups of workers and other parties to seek relief when rapid increases in imports of products cause or threaten market disruption to a domestic industry, the USW added.
According to the USW, ITC Chairman Shara L. Aranoff noted in an April 27 memorandum that it was not appropriate for representatives of the Chinese government to discuss the facts of the cases before the Commission and that ex parte contact with interested parties needed to be recorded and made part of the administrative record.
Imports of consumer tires from China increased from 2004 to 2008 by 215 percent in volume and 295 percent by value, according to the USW petition filed with the ITC. Citing China's share of total imports of consumer tires, the petition noted that imports have nearly tripled by volume during the surge period, while domestic production of consumer tires has declined by more than 25 percent.