By Oliver Hall
President Barack Obama could cost 100,000 Chinese workers in the tyres industry their jobs if he agrees to a US unions request for steep import duties on their products, industry officials claim.
Obama must decide on the United Steelworkers (USW) unions request for curbs on tyres imports from China by September 17, one week before he hosts Chinese President Hu Jintao and other leaders of the Group of 20 countries in Pittsburgh to discuss joint efforts to revive the international economy.
But Mary Xu, deputy secretary general of the China Rubber Industry Association, urged the US President: “Please make no mistake about it. Chinese tyres are fairly traded. The Steelworkers union petition makes absolutely no claim of unfair trade.”
The USW, which represents workers at major US tyre manufacturers, filed a petition earlier this year for import relief, because it claimed the surge of imported cheap tyres from China was damaging the domestic market.
The union won a favourable ruling from the US International Trade Commission, which recommended the government impose a 55-percent tariff on the Chinese tyre imports for the first year, dropping to 45-percent in the second year and 35-percent in the third before being removed.