US Launches Anti-Dumping Probe Into Steel Wheels From China

The tit-for-tat trade spat between the US and China continued late Tuesday when the US revealed that it is starting a new investigation into whether steel wheels produced in China are illegally dumped in the US - an investigation that's being carried out at the behest of Accuride and Maxion Wheels, two US vehicle components suppliers, Reuters reported.

In addition to the investigation, the Department of Commerce also revealed on Tuesday that producers of common alloy aluminum sheet imported from China enjoy anticompetitive state subsidies as high as 113.3%, based on findings from an investigation launched in November.

The news comes a day after China's Ministry of Commerce announced that it would impose a massive 178.6% anti-dumping tariff on imported sorghum, a grain used to feed Chinese pigs and other livestock, which in turn was in response to the US banning exports to Chinese telecom giant ZTE.

The two companies initially petitioned the Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission earlier this month, according to Tire Business - a trade publication that covers the tire production and other segments of the auto parts industry.

The petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) covers certain road-going hub- and stud-piloted steel wheels with rim diameters of 22.5 and 24.5 inches designed principally for use on Class 6, 7 and 8 commercial vehicles.

U.S. trade data show the value of "steel wheel products" imports last year as $420 million.

The petition excludes wheels for tube-type tires and wheels intended primarily for off-road use.

For the Department of Commerce to take action, the ITC must determine that there is a reasonable indication that US industry is materially injured or threatened with material injury by the anti-competitive imports. It can also determine that the development of a US industry has been hampered by the alleged dumping, which floods the market with products sold for less than they cost to produce.

The ITC, acting on a petition from Accuride and Hayes Lemmerz, investigated the same product category in 2012 but found that imports of steel truck wheels from China did not materially injure or threaten U.S. manufacturers.

The petitioners allege antidumping margins of 11.3% to 231.7% and countervailing duty margins of up to 77.3%.

As Tire Business explains, Accuride, based in Evansville, Indiana, is active in three business areas: Medium- and heavy-duty steel and aluminum wheels; medium- and heavy-duty vehicle brake drums, disc wheel hubs, spoke wheels and rotors,  and wheel-end solutions. Maxion, based in Novi, Mich., is a global supplier of light- and heavy-duty steel and aluminum wheels under the Hayes-Lemmerz, Fumagalli and Maxion brands.