WASHINGTONFor the second time in less than a decade, Titan International Inc. and the United Steelworkers (USW) union have united to seek relief from what they say are heavily subsidized, unfairly underpriced OTR tire imports.
Titan and the USW sent petitions Jan. 8 to the International Trade Commission (ITC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, formally requesting investigations of certain imported OTR tirescovering agriculture, industry, construction, mining and industrial applicationsfrom China, India and Sri Lanka under Sections 701 and 731 of the Trade Act.
The previous joint Titan-USW petition was in 2007, when the Quincy, Ill.-based OTR tire manufacturer and the Pittsburgh-based union asked Commerce and the ITC for antidumping and countervailing duties against certain Chinese OTR imports, primarily smaller-sized industrial, implement, farm/forestry, skid-steers, etc.
The agencies granted those duties in 2008, and renewed them early in 2014 after a routine five-year review.
Besides the inclusion of import from India and Sri Lanka, the new petitions differ from the previous ones in that they include tires mounted on wheels as well as unmounted tires.
The union claims tires from China, India and Sri Lanka accounted for an estimated 41 percent of all OTR tires imported into the U.S. in 2014. The actual number would likely be higher if mounted tires were included in the import data.
Imports from the three countries have grown significantly since 2012, the USW said, even as demand in several important markets has fallen due to declining farm income and low commodity prices.
B.K. Bansal, director (finance) of Mumbai-based tire maker Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT), said his company will cooperate fully with the ITC and Commerce during the investigation.
BKT is confident that once all the facts are gathered, the agencies will find the Indian tire maker in compliance with U.S. trade regulations, and the accusations against it without merit, Mr. Bansal said.
Other manufacturers and/or importers contacted by Tire Business either have not replied or declined to comment.
Titan and the USW, however, said the threat of dumped and subsidized OTR tires in the U.S. market has only expanded since 2008.
Unfortunately, this is the second time we have had to file a case against dumped and subsidized imports of OTR tires, USW International President Leo W. Gerard said Jan. 8.
The first time we were successful, but Chinese producers and importers appear to be gaming the system to avoid the duties they owe, Mr. Gerard said. And now, subsidized producers in India and Sri Lanka have stepped in to get their own piece of the U.S. market.
Titan CEO and Chairman Maurice Taylor seconded Mr. Gerard's concerns.
Too many domestic industries have been overwhelmed with unfair trade practices that capture sales of U.S. companies, Mr. Taylor said.
Titan has been fighting for the last eight years to safeguard the rights of U.S. producers of certain OTR tires and their workers, he said.
This case represents a significant effort by our company to restore conditions of fair trade to the U.S. market for OTR tires.
Titanwhich has suffered massive sales declines the past several quartersand the USW said they expect preliminary determinations of material injury by summer 2016 and final determinations by early 2017.
Our union represents the majority of workers in the U.S. OTR tire industry and today's action is essential to protecting these jobs from further erosion, said USW District Director Mike Millsap, who chairs the union's negotiation committee with Titan Tire.
Rising volumes of unfairly traded imports are driving down prices and harming domestic producers and workers. This is exactly the type of situation our trade remedy laws were designed to redress, and we are proud to use those laws to stand up for our members.
According to the ITC's statement on the case, the commission must reach preliminary determinations in antidumping and countervailing duty investigations by Feb. 22 and make that decision public no later than Feb. 29, unless the Department of Commerce extends the time for initiation.
The USW represents workers producing OTR tires at Titan International Inc., Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Goodyear at six plants in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Ohio.
Since the previous petitions on OTR tires, the USW has twice won relief against Chinese passenger and light truck tire importers.
Between September 2009 and September 2012, the Obama administration levied high tariffs against Chinese tire importers under Section 421 of the Trade Act, which protects industries injured by upsurges in Chinese imports.
The USW then petitioned for antidumping and countervailing duties in June 2014 against the same tire imports. The ITC voted 3-3 in July 2014 that the domestic tire industry was suffering material injury because of the imports, and the following month Commerce set stiff antidumping and countervailing duties against the importers.
Chinese OTR tire importers have made several challenges against the 2008 tariffs. In April 2015, China Manufacturers Alliance L.L.C. said it would appeal a 105.3-percent antidumping duty determination against OTR tires sold under the Double Coin brand.
Also, Chinese OTR tire makers challenged in federal court a 2012 law allowing the U.S. to levy countervailing duties against goods from China and other non-market economies.
The ITC has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 29 in Washington for interested parties to submit testimony for or against the petitions.
The conference will begin at 9:30 a.m. at ITC headquarters, 500 E Street S.W. in Washington, D.C.
Parties supporting or opposing the imposition of duties will each collectively be given one hour to make oral presentations, the ITC said.
Non-parties to the investigations may request permission to make short statements germane to the investigations, according to the agency.
Those wishing to make presentations at the conference should submit requests via email to [email protected] and [email protected] by Jan. 27. The investigation numbers are 701-TA-551-553 and 731-TA-1307-1308.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]