WASHINGTON — The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) and 10 of its member companies are appealed directly to President Donald Trump to persuade him to amend his order on steel tariffs in light of the tire industry's need for high-quality imported steel.
"We strongly urge you to consider the unintended and substantial negative consequences that trade restriction on steel imports will have for downstream U.S. manufacturers," the tire makers said in a March 7 letter.
Mr. Trump is ordering a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and a 10-percent tariff on imported aluminum under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Section 232 allows the president to impose trade restrictions on any import that may pose a threat to national security.
The U.S. Department of Commerce began a Section 232 investigation of steel and aluminum imports in early 2017. Its report last month recommending elevated tariffs on both was the major impetus toward Mr. Trump's March 1 announcement that the U.S. would levy tariffs.
Since the beginning of the investigation, however, the USTMA and its members have said that tariffs on tire-grade steel would have a disastrous effect on domestic tire manufacturing and the industries and consumers dependent on it.
"Tire cord-quality steel rod is produced using basic oxygen furnace technology, which generally is employed only by foreign wire rod suppliers," the tire makers said in their letter.
"Any action that curtails the availability of the supply of tire cord or tire cord-quality steel wire potentially could have a cascading negative impact on U.S. commerce, since the transportation industry and the military depend on a reliable supply of tires to ship goods throughout the country," the letter said.
"Further, a disruption in tire manufacturing in the U.S. would threaten national security, since the U.S. military relies on the tire industry to provide high-performing and durable tires to aid in our national defense," it said.
Various sources reported that Mr. Trump could sign the tariff order as early as March 8.
The USTMA letter is signed by executives of 10 of the association's 11 member companies: Gordon Knapp, Bridgestone Americas Inc.; Jochen Etzel, Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.; Steve Zamansky, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.; Steven McClellan, Goodyear; Harry Choi, Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.; Scott Clark, Michelin North America Inc.; Maureen Kline, Pirelli Tire North America; Richard Smallwood, Sumitomo Rubber North America Inc.; James Hawk, Toyo Tires Holdings of America Inc.; and Jeff Barna, Yokohama Tire Corp.