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U.S. Slaps Duties on Chinese OTR Tires

(Reuters) The Commerce Department has set preliminary anti-dumping duties of up to 210% on millions of OTR tires from China it said were being sold in the United States at unfairly low prices.

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The tires were the sixth Chinese product to be hit with U.S. anti-dumping duties since the start of the year.

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The others include nails, certain steel pipe, a teeth-whitening ingredient and laminated woven sacks used to package items such as dog food and bird seed. This diverse list reflects the array of U.S. manufacturers feeling pressure from Chinese exports that many complain are unfairly priced.

"Price distortion by Chinese exporters puts American manufacturers at an unfair disadvantage," Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Import Administration David Spooner said in a statement announcing the action.

"In an effort to encourage a healthy economic environment and to strive to maintain a strong and fair relationship with our trading partners, the administration will continue its commitment to aggressively enforce America’s trade remedy laws," Spooner said.

U.S. imports of the tires targeted in the case rose from 11.2 million in 2004 to nearly 15 million in 2006. The duties do not affect tires used on aircraft, ATVs, trailers, golf carts and lawn and garden equipment.

The U.S. International Trade Commission must make a final determination that U.S. producers have been materially harmed, or are threatened with material harm, for final duties to go into effect. That decision is expected in August.

Altogether, the United States has more than 60 anti-dumping orders in force against China. Many date back for years.

Titan Filed Complaints

Iowa-based Titan Tire Corp. and union workers filed two cases last year asking for import relief.

The Commerce Department responded in December to Titan’s complaint that the Chinese government subsidizes OTR tire production by setting preliminary countervailing duties ranging from 2.38 to 6.59%.

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The separate duties announced on Wednesday are intended to stop Chinese companies from "dumping" OTR tires in the U.S. market at below fair market prices.

Commerce set a 10.98% duty on imports from Tianjin United Tire & Rubber International; 16.35% on Guizhou Tire Co.; 19.73% on Hebei Starbright Tire Co.; and 51.81% on Xuzhou Xugong Tyre Co.

More than 40 other Chinese tire producers and exporters were hit with a preliminary anti-dumping duty of 24.75%, while an unspecified number of other companies now face a China-wide rate of 210.48%.

U.S. Customs will collect a cash deposit or bond based on the preliminary rates until the Commerce Department makes its final decision on anti-dumping duties in late June. (Tire Review/Akron)

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