Multiple unconfirmed reports from significant players in the U.S. truck tire market say that the United Steelworkers union will soon be filing a formal petition seeking relief from medium and heavy truck tires imported from China.
Sources say that the filing will come by the end of next week, but could come even today.
The petition would seek countervailing and anti-dumping duties on medium and heavy truck tires imported from China. This would include Chinese brands as well as those of domestic makers, such as Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., which produces its popular Roadmaster lines in China, as well as imported tires from other familiar names.
Last year, the USW went after China-produced consumer tires, winning significant countervailing and anti-dumping duties that went into effect late last year. Currently, the USW is partnering with Titan International seeking additional duties on OTR and ag tires from China, India and Sri Lanka. The International Trade Commission is holding a preliminary conference on that filing today in Washington, D.C.
Such action by the USW would not be a surprise to industry observers; it has been felt that the increasing importation rate from China made truck tires an obvious target.
According to U.S. government data, truck tires imported from China totaled 4.86 million units in 2011, or 22.71% of the combined U.S. OE and replacement market. By 2014, imports from China had swelled to 8.38 million tires, or 36.25% of the U.S. replacement market.
By contrast, Canada was the second highest exporter, delivering 1.38 million tires to the U.S. in 2014.
In 2011, Chinese exports to the U.S. were 47.23% of all truck tires imported here; by 2014 that percentage rose to 55.1%.
Compounding matters, over the last 18-24 months the market has seen a significant drop in pricing for Tier 3-4 Chinese truck tire imports. Some have reported import prices for new radials that fall below even the most competitively priced retread. There has even been scattered reports of import prices falling below that of raw casings.