By Denna Bowman
Duties of up to 55 per cent could be imposed on Chinese tyres imported into the US in a bid to protect the domestic industry.
The US International Trade Commission voted 4-2 in favour of charging additional tariffs on passenger car and light commercial vehicle tyres imported from China.
The extra duties, on top of the existing tariffs of less than 4 per cent, would be imposed for a three-year period, starting at 55 per cent of the tyres value for the first year and dropping to 45 and 35 per cent respectively.
The proposal comes after the United Steelworkers union petitioned the ITC to intervene over the sale of cheap tyres imported from China, because it claimed they were damaging the domestic tyre manufacturing industry.
The union said a surge in Chinese tyre imports had overwhelmed domestic producers and cost almost 7,000 US jobs.
Four of the six ITC commissioners agreed that the domestic market had been disrupted and suggested that the US impose tariffs on £1bn of Chinese tyre imports for three years.
The ruling presented the first clear-cut test of Barack Obama’s approach to trade relations with Beijing and the president has until September to decide whether to act on the advice.