Obama Decision on Chinese Tires Enforces Existing Trade Law

Contacts: Gary Hubbard (202) 256-8125, ghubbard@usw.org
                Wayne Ranick (412) 562-2444, wranick@usw.org

PITTSBURGH – The United Steelworkers (USW) today said President Obama’s decision to impose tariffs on Chinese consumer tires was simply a matter of enforcing existing trade laws.

“It’s our union’s responsibility to defend our members and to do it in a way that is within the law and that’s what we have done,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard said.  “We’re not against trade. We want a level playing field.

"President Obama rightly rejected groundless retaliation threats and imposed relief based on the merits of this case." The President correctly explained today that "enforcing trade agreements is part and parcel of maintaining an open and free trading system," said Gerard.

When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, it agreed that other WTO members, including the United States, would have the right for 12 years to impose safeguard relief on goods from China when imports of those goods increased rapidly and caused injury to domestic industries. “We are within our complete total 100 percent right under the safeguard to ask for the remedy that we did,’’ Gerard added.

The USW strongly supports President Obama’s decision to provide relief in response to proven surges of tire exports from China. The International Trade (ITC) Commission upheld the union’s complaint after extensive review. “For far too long, workers across this country have been victimized by bad trade policies and government inaction,’’ Gerard said. “President Obama has made clear that he will enforce America’s trade laws and stand by American workers.”

Gerard said the United States should redesign its trade policy to provide a better balance for the needs of domestic workers and industries that employ them. “We need a trade policy that works for American workers as well as multinational corporations and Wall Street,’’ Gerard said.

When the USW filed its trade case, it asked that the relief be provided in the form of quotas. The ITC agreed with the USW’s position on surging exports from China, but decided that relief in the form of tariffs would be the best response.

The President’s action provides for three years of relief with tariffs of 35 percent the first year, 30 percent the second year and 25 percent in the third year.

“Despite imposing a different remedy by the ITC, we are optimistic that the step taken by the President will provide real, effective relief,’’ USW International Vice President Tom Conway said.

Gerard said the president’s decision is an important one for thousands of tire industry workers whose jobs were on the line as a result of a huge surge in Chinese tire imports that began in 2004.

“This decision means a better deal for hardworking American men and women and the millions of manufacturers, farmers and ranchers, and service providers who ask only for a chance to compete on fair terms,” Gerard said.

“It also means China and other countries can no longer assume they can engage in predatory trade practices with impunity. The President understands that providing effective relief from import surges for the U.S. tire industry in this case is fully consistent with our WTO obligations. And it is the right thing to do,” Gerard concluded.

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