Steelmakers and Tire Tariffs
I wrote in my Article titled, “US Steelmakers Support Green House Gas Legislation” on United Steelworkers supporting GHG legislation and assumed they were doing so to get more favorable treatment from the White House.
In fact the United Steelworkers couldn’t get any trade complaints passed through the Bush administration so their hoping for some traction with Obama (particular since he pledged to increase trade enforcement). They are currently trying to get ‘trade enforcement’ considerations by Obama on imported Chinese tires.
Well Obama ended up signing a 35-percent tariff on imported tires (a tariff acts like an additional tax on tires from China, read more about tariffs via wiki). The action provides a 35-percent tariff the first year, beginning September 26; 30 percent the second year; and 25 the third. That’s on top of the four-percent tariff that the U.S. already imposes. Then the statute expires completely at the end of 2013. The reason for the increased tariff is that current trade laws have a anti-dumping law which in this case has been investigated by the US International Trade Commission which has determined that (see their report),
On the basis of information developed in the subject investigation, the United States International Trade Commission (Commission) determines, pursuant to section 421(b)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974,1 that certain passenger vehicle and light truck tires2 from the People’s Republic of China are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities or under such conditions as to cause or threaten to cause market disruption to the domestic producers of like or directly competitive products.
So basically the Chinese are able to import tires that are less expensive and that this causes market disruption. I wonder if saddle makers made similar complaints to their US representatives in the advent of the automobile, claiming that automobiles will subject their industry to market disruptions.
I thought a quick overview of why this hurts all of us would be beneficial. China can produce tires with less expenses than a US company. They can do this because of differences that exist within their economy, like lower wages and lower costs of production. This provides the US market with less expensive tires. When a tariff is enacted it increases the price of imported tires and limits the number of imported tires that come into the US market (this later point is because Chinese firms profit margin decreases because the demand for their tires decreases due other additional costs imposed by the tariff and they produce less tires for export).
In fact, I just purchased a set myself, and was happy to buy a reliable well made tire from China that costs less money. If these tires were more expensive due to a tariff or not available because the Chinese companies can no longer remain profitable, then I would have to purchase more expensive US made tires, or pay for more expensive tires from China. That would leave less money in my pocket, and every other consumer who picked out less expensive Chinese tires. This makes me less well-off, there is less money to spend on other things like donations to universities or going out to dinner in my neighborhood.
Well, one my ask, why would a President want to hurt all of the consumers of tires in the US. Its not that the President wants to hurt consumers, but rather the US Steelmakers and a few other special interest have convinced the President that they are worth helping. Too bad US consumers can’t get the attention of the White House like special interest do.
I agree with a WSJ blog that this shouldn’t be viewed as a beginning of a Trade War, as it may just be a warning shot, but it still is unnecessary and doesn’t allow me to freely contract with a company providing me a more favorable alternative to US made tires.
To quote the president in a speech given Aug. 2, 2008,
When special interests put their thumb on the scale, and distort the free market, the people who compete by the rules come in last.
Well I’m following the rules as is every other consumer who wants to purchase less expensive tires, and we are coming in after the special interest. Hopefully people will start to learn that politicians manipulate public sentiments to get elected (i.e., they tell us what we want to hear which does not follow what they end up doing).
Why Should One Get Support While the Other is Hurt