ARKANSAS: Three Tire Makers Request Exemption From Trump’s Steel Tariffs Or They Will Go Out Of Business

Arkansas Online reports:

Bekaert Corp., Kiswire America and Tokusen USA jointly requested blanket exclusion from what they described as “grade 1078 and above wire rod for tire cord” that they import, arguing that the quality of wire rod they require is unavailable from U.S.-based steel producers. If they can’t get access to the imported steel they need, the companies say they will close their operations. Together, they employ 1,500 people at four plants in Arkansas.

“Stated simply, U.S. wire rod producers are incapable of producing grade 1078 and above wire rod to produce tire cord because that grade of wire rod must be produced in basic oxygen furnaces to achieve the strength, cleanliness and other properties to draw the wire rod to tire cord dimensions,” according to the companies’ legal representative, the Washington, D.C., law firm of Morris, Manning & Martin LLP.

Tire Business reports:

The U.S. government first proposed imposing import tariffs on steel using the Section 232 protections in early 2017. At that time the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association urged the Commerce Department to consider excluding specific types of tire cord-quality steel wire rod from the tariffs.

Domestic suppliers cannot meet the demand of U.S. tire manufacturers for these steel products, said Tracey L. Norberg, USTMA senior vice president and general counsel, at a May 24 Commerce hearing.

High-carbon wire rod, which is necessary to make the steel wire used in producing tire cord and bead wire, must be made in basic oxygen furnace steel works for required strength and cleanliness, the companies said, and is not available from U.S. rod mills, which use electric-arc furnaces.