By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, July 14, US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) issued a written statement regarding the US International Trade Commission’s decision in a case brought by American tire manufacturers. They alleged unfair and illegal trade subsidies by Chinese tire makers. The Commission agreed that the US industry had been “materially injured,” and as a result, the Commerce Department will be ordering anti-dumping duties.
Senator Sessions, who testified in this case, said, “The International Trade Commission’s decision to impose relief from illegal Chinese tire imports is good news for Alabama workers. The ITC had already found that China was improperly subsidizing tire production in the past, but when that relief expired, those unfair practices resumed and American workers suffered. The day is past when the United States can stand to see a single additional job lost due to unfair practices by our trading partners.”
Last month, Sen. Sessions attended the ITC hearing on this case and delivered testimony in support of the American tire companies’ petition. Alabama is home to a number of tire manufacturing facilities, including Michelin plants in Dothan and Tuscaloosa, and a Goodyear plant in Gadsden. The ITC plans to make its final report public by August 24, 2015.
Sen. Sessions recently joined Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in a joint column to address the Chinese predatory practices in the tire market.
The bipartisan group of Senators wrote, “China has targeted the market with millions of dumped and subsidized tire imports that are killing jobs and reducing wages. They undermine the principles of free trade and free enterprise by ignoring the rules that they promised to uphold. It’s time for our government to say: enough is enough…the US 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.”
Sen. Sessions and colleagues wrote, “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. While prices in the short-term here might be lower to our consumers, the ability of companies to invest in new plants and equipment is limited, and workers often experience stagnating or declining wages, if not job loss. As a result, offshore producers take away market share from US producers, gradually claiming more and more of the market. In the long-term we may lose another industry due to predatory trade practices.”
The powerful Washington foursome wrote, “This is exactly what’s happening today in the U.S. tire industry. As America faced its financial crisis in 2008 China flooded the domestic market with tires. The ITC approved a petition calling for relief, based on a provision China agreed to when it joined the World Trade Organization. For three years, US producers were able to help rebuild the sector. But, as soon as the provision expired, China began to once again, flood the US market…The result has been lost sales, production levels reduced below what they should have been in a growing market, as well as suppressed hours, and wages. All of the growth in the US market was unfairly taken by China’s producers…Under fair trade conditions, the US industry would be doing much better and workers would be sharing in the benefits. China shouldn’t be allowed to skirt the rules while arguing that it’s not doing enough damage to our people to justify relief. China’s producers are clearly pursuing predatory trade practices and these practices are causing damage to the US industry. The ITC should carefully consider the strong evidence of this damage and put a stop to it. It is time to restore a level playing field.”
Sessions is Alabama’s junior Senator, serving since 1997. He sits on the Armed Services, Budget, Environment, Public Works, and Judiciary committees.