WASHINGTON — Imposing tariffs on imported auto parts would harm rather than help the U.S. auto industry and American consumers, according to Richard Smallwood, CEO and president of Sumitomo Rubber North America Inc.
"I cannot see how Sumitomo's engagement with the U.S…could have any conceivable negative impact on national security," Mr. Smallwood said at a day-long hearing July 19 at the U.S. Department of Commerce headquarters in Washington.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced May 23 that the Trump administration had initiated an investigation of imported autos and auto parts under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.
At that time, Mr. Ross said there was evidence that for decades imported vehicles and vehicle parts had threatened national security by eroding the U.S. auto industry.
Mr. Smallwood, however, said Sumitomo's activities in the U.S. only could be interpreted as helping the domestic auto industry.
Sumitomo employs more than 1,600 workers in seven states, Mr. Smallwood said in his testimony, and supplies tires to many auto and motorcycle manufacturers in the U.S., as well as to major retailers such as Discount Tire and Pep Boys.
Recently Sumitomo announced planned investments of up to $80 million to bring its U.S. manufacturing capacity at its plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., to 15,000 tires per day by 2020, he said.