WASHINGTONCiting critical circumstances, the United Steelworkers (USW) and its attorneys have petitioned Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker for expedited action on the union's countervailing duties case against imports of passenger and light truck tires from China.
In its Sept. 12 filing, the USW cited Commerce Department regulations stating that, when critical circumstances exist, the agency need not wait for a preliminary determination of subsidies to issue a preliminary critical circumstances determination.
The facts of the case, the USW said, show there is a reasonable basis to believe or suspect 'critical circumstances' exist demonstrating severe material injury to the domestic tire industry. It urged Commerce to make a preliminary critical circumstances determination as soon as possible, but no later than the Nov. 21 deadline for the preliminary determination of subsidies.
The massive increase in Chinese tire imports in the past three years15 percent or more over a relatively short period, by Commerce Department conventionare more than enough to prove critical circumstances, the USW said.
In June and July 2014 alone, it said, imports of passenger and light truck tires from China into the U.S. averaged 6.1 million per month, a 26.5-percent increase over the 4.82 million average in the March-May 2014 period.
At the same time, imports from all other countries fell, the USW's petition shows.
There was no word from the USW on when it expected a reply from Commerce, and attorneys for various Chinese tire makers and importers could not be reached for comment.
The USW petitioned the ITC and Commerce June 3 for antidumping and countervailing duties against Chinese tires, under Sections 701 and 731 of the Trade Act.
Between September 2009 and September 2012, the Obama administration levied elevated tariffs against Chinese tires under Section 421 of the Trade Act. Since the end of those tariffs, the USW alleged, imports of tires from China to the U.S. have skyrocketed.
The ITC voted 6-0 on Aug. 15 that there is a reasonable indication Chinese tire imports are causing material injury to the U.S. tire industry.
On Sept. 15, 31 U.S. senators sent a joint letter to Secretary Pritzker, supporting the USW's petitions for duties.
America's laws against unfair trade are a critical underpinning of our economic policies and economic prosperity, they wrote. Given the chance, American workers can out-compete anyone. But, in the face of China's continual targeting of our manufacturing base, we need to make sure that we act quickly and enforce our laws.
USW International President Leo W. Gerard issued a press release the same day, praising Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., who instigated the letter, and the other signatories.
Today's letter demonstrates strong support nationally for the fair trade case made by American tire workers, Mr. Gerard said.