The Department of Commerce has opened an investigation into passenger and light truck tire (PLT) imports from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam to determine if they’re being sold at less than market value.
The investigation is in response to a petition filed by the United Steelworkers Union (USW) in May that alleged high dumping margins for the four countries. As part of the investigation, the department has also decided to investigate possible currency manipulation from Vietnam to determine whether tire manufacturers in the country were receiving unfair subsidies for PLT tires.
The USW’s antidumping and countervailing duty (CVD) petition claims that dumping margins were as high as 195% for Korea, 147% for Taiwan, 217% for Thailand and 33% for Vietnam.
The USW applauded the department’s decision to investigate, calling the U.S. trade system “broken.”
“When a country like Vietnam artificially suppresses its currency for the purpose of propping up its own industry, we need to treat that like we would any other illegal subsidy,” said USW International President Tom Conway. “Importantly, these USW-initiated charges of currency manipulation are the first time they are being challenged under the new rules by the Department of Commerce. We need swift and decisive action. Thousands of community-supporting domestic jobs depend on it.”
The Commerce Department issued new rules earlier this year that allowed currency undervaluation to be considered as an illegal subsidy.
The USW’s petition against Vietnam as well as the antidumping petitions against Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam will go before The International Trade Commission (ITC) for a vote on preliminary determinations July 14.
The USW represents workers at tire plants in eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, North Carolina, New York and Virginia.
According to the New York Times, Hankook Tire urged the Commerce Department this month not to investigate, saying the U.S. domestic tire industry “is in robust health and growing.” In a filing it said, domestic vehicle tire producers “as a whole have not been materially injured and are not threatened with material injury by reason of subject imports.”