FINDLAY, Ohio (Sept. 15, 2009) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., which depends to a measurable degree on its Chinese joint venture factories for supplying U.S. dealers with consumer tires, is assessing its manufacturing options in order to meet its customers' needs in the wake of President Obama's decision to levy double-digit tariffs on Chinese imports.
Cooper did not disclose specifics of its plan, saying only in response to a Tire Business query that it will “act quickly and appropriately to this decision as contingency planning has been under way. We are…assessing our options and will keep all stakeholders informed of decisions as appropriate.”
The Findlay-based tire maker said its priority “is to continue to meet customers' needs while balancing the reality of these new business challenges.”
Cooper sources passenger and light truck tires for its U.S. customers from two factories in China: its own plant in Chengshan, China, and a 50-50 joint venture with Taiwan's Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. in Kunshan, China, that has been producing Cooper-brand tires since February 2008.
Prior to the White House's decision to impose tariffs on Chinese consumer tires — 35 percent ad valorem for the year starting Sept. 26, and 30 and 25 percent, respectively, in the second and third years — Cooper testified at a U.S. Trade Representative hearing, “The added costs of the duties would make any such imports economically unfeasible,” and imposing tariffs would “undermine Cooper's strategy of producing certain types of tires in China and other tires in the U.S.”
In the U.S., Cooper produces consumer tires at plants in Texarkana, Ark,. Tupelo, Miss., and Findlay. It also operates a plant in Melksham, England, and has a minority stake in Corporacion Occidente, which operates a tire plant in El Salto, Mexico.