Importers 'disappointed' in U.S. duties decision
AKRON (Nov. 26, 2014) — Importers/marketers of Chinese-sourced passenger and light truck tires are collectively “disappointed” in the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision to impose countervailing duties on consumer tires imported to the U.S., but those that have commented are vowing to stay active in the marketplace.
While many importers/marketers contacted by Tire Business have thus far declined to comment, a handful — Giti Tire (USA) Ltd., Horizon Tire Corp. Omni United USA and Sentury Tire Americas among them — did take the occasion to state their cases.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association, which represents U.S.-based tire producers, is not taking a position on the matter, while the Tire Industry Association declined to comment at this time beyond its June statement opposing Commerce's decision to investigate the situation. The RMA deferred to its individual company members for comment.
Giti Tire, which was given a duty of 17.69 percent — two points higher than the general duty — said it believes these preliminary duties “do not reflect its actual circumstance” and that it intends to seek clarification from Commerce on its calculation and will continue to work throughout the preliminary period to ensure that its actual circumstance is properly reflected in the department's calculation.
Giti, which earlier this year committed $560 million to build a plant in South Carolina, stressed that it has a “long-term commitment to the U.S. market, its customers, the American consumer and its American workforce.” Git Tire is the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based subsidiary of Singapore-based Giti Tire Group, which produces tires in China and Indonesia.
Miami-based Sentury Tire, a subsidiary of Qingdao Sentury Tire Co. Ltd., said the decision “hasn't dampened Sentury's…commitment to its U.S. distributors and dealers” and that it is “committed to delivering high quality tires at an affordable price” despite the duties, according to Maxwell Wee, director of sales.
Mr. Wee noted that Sentury is moving to an expanded warehouse and office complex in Miami in January and will be unveiling new programs and products to support its Delinte and Landsail brands.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “we feel this action penalizes tire customers who have come to depend on” Sentury's brands. He pledged that Sentury Tire will “do all that's humanly possible to maintain a program that works for our tire distributors and dealers.”
Houston-based Horizon Tire, whose China-sourced brands include Aoteli, Antares, Crosswind, Herovic and Sotera, said the big loser in this action will be U.S. consumers who can least afford the upcoming price increases on tires sold in the U.S., Chinese or otherwise.
“The tariff end result will only prove to be a ‘de facto' tax increase to U.S. consumers,” Horizon said.
The importer/wholesaler said it believes pricing levels ultimately will revert to the pre-tariff tier levels 1, 2 and 3 as the U.S. market adjusts pricing to include products sourced from all over the world. The company said it is confident its sales will not decrease in the coming year and could even improve as many brokers and distributors turn to suppliers that are committed to being in the U.S. market.
At the same time, Horizon took steps to protect itself against the seeming inevitability of U.S. action by having Shandong Linglong Tyre Co. Ltd. move production of Horizon's Crosswind brand to Linglong's new factory in Thailand.
“This is not to say that Chinese made products will not prove to be viable products for sale in the U.S. moving forward,” the distributor added.
Omni United, whose portfolio includes the Corsa, Goodride and Radar brands, said the “quantum of the [duties] surprised us, but we are still trying to understand its full implication in the short, medium and long term,” according to Scott Rhodes, vice president of sales.
Mr. Rhodes noted it is difficult to make business plans at this time because of the still outstanding issue of antidumping duties.
Nonetheless, he said, Omni United is “committed to continuing to serve our customers in the best and least disruptive way. As a company we have diverse geographical manufacturing in place to combat geo-political risks and we will not be making any changes in our business model at this time.”
According to Commerce Department data, imports of passenger tires from China through September were up 15.5 percent over the first nine months of 2013 to nearly 40 million units. By contrast, overall imports were up just 4.3 percent to 113.4 million units, reflecting double-digit declines in imports from South Korea, Canada and other major trading partners.
The pace of imports from China picked up noticeably in the third quarter, the figures show. The monthly average for July-September was 5.1 million units, up 25 percent over the 4.1 million average for the first six months.
The average price of a Chinese tire import in 2014 was $35.72, the data show, down nearly $3 from the 2013 average.
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