By Denna Bowman
The US government has announced it will impose high tariffs on imports of Chinese tyres in a hotly debated trade dispute.
A 35 per cent duty will be set on the tyres from China for a year, followed by a 30 per cent tariff for the second and a 25 per cent tariff for a third year.
The quota is in addition to a 4 per cent tariff already applied.
The decision is seen as the Obama administrations first test on trade policy after the petition for tariffs was brought by the United Steelworkers union, which argued that increased imports from China were damaging the domestic market.
The USW claimed the tide of cheap Chinese tyres had led to the closure of US plants and elimination of US jobs.
Importers and several companies that manufacture tyres along with the Chinese government had urged the White House not to impose the higher tariffs.
Several major tyre companies, including Goodyear and Firestone, import tyres from China and did not support the USW petition.
The decision is likely to be criticized by China and other international trade partners.
It comes less than two weeks before Barack Obama is to host a G20 summit of world leaders in Pittsburgh.
At a previous G20 meeting in London earlier this year, Obama and other leaders pledged to not take protectionist measures amid the global recession.
Obama had until 17 September 17 to make a decision, but the announcement was made in a release sent out by the White House press office at about 9:30 p.m. Friday night, a time when news is sometimes “dumped” in the hope it will attract less attention.
Obama was not quoted in the statement from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who said the president had decided to remedy a “clear disruption” in the US tyre industry.