Lincoln: President Should Follow ITC’s Recommendation, Provide Relief to Arkansas’s Workers

Lincoln: President Should Follow ITC’s Recommendation, Provide Relief to Arkansas’s Workers

Washington – U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) today called on President Obama to follow the recommendation of the International Trade Commission (ITC) and provide relief to domestic tire industry workers in Arkansas and across the nation who have been harmed by a surge of Chinese imports.

“Earlier today, the ITC voted for a strong tariff remedy that will give our domestic tire industry and workers the competitive breathing room they need and deserve,” Lincoln said.  “President Obama has signaled that the United States will stay engaged as a leading trading nation.  He has promised to enforce trade laws more vigorously and to promote America’s interest in the welfare of workers and the protection of the environment.  Following the ITC’s recommendation of relief will enable him to make good on that promise.”

On April 20, the United Steelworkers (USW) submitted a petition to the ITC under Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974 seeking relief from a surge in Chinese imports.  The Section 421 trade safeguard became law in 2000 as a condition for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.  Under this safeguard mechanism, companies or workers injured by import surges from China can petition for temporary relief in the form of reduced imports.

The USW petition explained how imports of passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China between 2004 and 2008 led to sharp declines in domestic production and over 5,000 job losses.  The petition showed that there was a 215 percent increase in imports by volume and a 295 percent increase in imports in terms of dollar value over the five-year period.

In its petition, the USW requested an import quota of 21 million consumer passenger tires.  The quota would then increase by five percent per year over three years.  This initial quota would return imports from China to the 2005 level.  This would give U.S. producers a chance to adjust to changing market conditions, upgrade facilities, and take other steps to preserve jobs and enhance competitiveness over the long term.

At the request of Cooper Tire workers in Texarkana, Lincoln testified in support of the USW petition at the ITC public hearing earlier this month, stating that Arkansas’s workers are entitled to compete on a fair playing field in our global marketplace.

On June 18, the ITC affirmed the USW petition and ruled that the U.S. tire industry has been adversely affected by Chinese imports.  Following today’s vote for a strong tariff remedy, the ITC will present its report and recommendation to President Obama on July 9. The President’s decision for a remedy is due in mid-September.