China Dumping Draws Bipartisan Tire-Ire

As anyone knows that has had to buy tires of any kind in the past ten years, it’s hard to find any rubber made here in the USA.  As some of you may have noticed, too, the quality of the Chinese-manufactured tires that you’ve bought isn’t always the best, to put it mildly.  Our market is flooded with Chinese tires, and supposedly they are cheaper than tires made here.  I think that isn’t exactly true, since the “cheap” tires from China that are so ubiquitous are costing US workers jobs.

Democrats Sherrod Brown and Chuck Schumer, with their Republican colleagues Jeff Sessions and Rob Portman, have together penned an article, published in The Hill; the Senators are as unhappy with China’s tires as the rest of us are.  In the article, directed at the International Trade Commission, the Senators say, in part:

Recently we asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to recognize the injury that the industry and its workers have experienced, along with the injury inflicted on the communities where they work and live.  Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Department of Commerce reaffirmed its view that Chinese tire makers have been dumping and subsidizing sales into our market, with rates ranging from 30 to 169 percent.  Commerce, after a careful investigation of the facts, actually increased the preliminary amount of subsidies and dumping that they had calculated shortly after the cases were filed.  Still, China has decided to build up the size and scope of its industry and ship its unfairly-priced tires here to keep its companies producing and workers employed. 

Why does this matter?  Fair rules of trade, properly enforced, benefit everyone.  The rules were carefully negotiated to ensure that companies and workers who make competitive products, at fair prices and of high quality, should be able to sell their products across the globe. China, in this industry and others, has decided to circumvent the rules in order to increase production and employment through an export-led growth model. 

Let’s move away from automobile tires, and consider the tires that we, as consumers, find ourselves buying most often.  Everybody who owns property of enough acreage to use a riding lawn mower can speak to the quality of the tires that are available for our mowers.  Are any of y’all impressed?  I know that the mower tires that I’ve had to buy in the last decade have left much to be desired in the quality department.  Don’t even get me started on wheelbarrow tires, small utility trailer tires, as well as the tires on my hand-trucks.  When lost American jobs are taken into account, are we really getting less expensive tires when they come from China?  All I can say is that if I have to replace tires twice as often, I certainly don’t feel like I’ve gotten a bargain.

We have to remember that China, having a centralized economy, can do all sorts of shenanigans with their manufacturers, and even their stock market that we simply don’t want to do in the United States.  I’m glad that our Senators see the results of dumping, and are at least trying to do something about it.