WASHINGTON — The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) again is calling for economic relief from the federal government for its members in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Tire manufacturers continue to face unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19," USTMA CEO Anne Forristall Luke said in a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
"USTMA urges Congress' continued leadership to ensure the American economy and manufacturing sector are well-positioned to quickly return to pre-pandemic levels in the near future and for the long term."
While applauding the White House and Congress for enacting legislation aimed at mitigating the direct and indirect economic harm caused by the spread of COVID-19, the USTMA is seeking new rules that, among other things, would create a tax holiday through Sept. 30 on employer-paid payroll taxes and provide tax credits for all employers providing benefits such as paid leave for "emergency situations or to care for family members experiencing emergency situations."
The USTMA also is calling for "a refundable payroll tax rebate covering 80% of employer payroll costs for companies of all sizes to help maintain (rather than terminate or temporarily layoff) their workforce during the COVID-19 emergency."
Other requests include:
- the immediate use and refundability of general business credits;
- a delay in the payment of federal excise taxes collected by manufacturers on tire sales; and
- assurance that "cross-border trade — particularly within North America — is not adversely affected by policies aimed at restricting movement to contain the spread of the disease."
The USTMA also wants the U.S. to work with Canada and Mexico to ensure the automotive supply chain and other industries can coordinate resumption of business.
The USTMA represents 13 member companies that have 58 tire-related manufacturing locations in 17 states employing over 100,000 and generating more than $27 billion in annual sales.
The request for the financial help was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Copies were sent to President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Tire manufacturers continue to face "unprecedented challenges," the USTMA said, and thus need the federal government's "continued leadership to ensure the American economy and manufacturing sector are well-positioned to quickly return to pre-pandemic levels in the near future and for the long term.
"[The] USTMA remains committed to engaging all stakeholders to quickly pass legislation that will address the immediate and enduring challenges facing our country and the tire manufacturing industry as a result of this pandemic."
The request comes at an unprecedented time in the modern U.S. economy that has seen major portions of industry grind to a halt as millions of people shelter-in-place at the request or demand of government in an effort to stifle spread of the virus.
The slowdown has caused the collapse of the gasoline and oil markets as residents around the country have drastically cut their driving and fuel consumption. The tire industry has been caught in the crisis as companies have idled dozesn of plants in the face of weakening demand.
The drastic cut in new vehicle production also is weakening demand for original equipment tires.
The April 20 letter follows other correspondence the USTMA sent Congressional leaders in late March also seeking a series of measures to provide economic relief, including some requests repeated in the latest letter.
"U.S. tire manufacturers are a critical part of the American economy. Our members play an integral role in ensuring safe and reliable transportation, particularly in emergencies," the earlier letter states.
USTMA members are: Bridgestone Americas Inc.; Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.; Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.; Giti Tire (USA) Ltd.; Goodyear; Hankook Tire America Corp.; Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.; Michelin North America Inc.; Nokian Tyres Inc.; Pirelli Tire North America; Sumitomo Rubber Industries Inc.; Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc.; and Yokohama Tire Corp.