At the time of going to press, the President of the United States of America is mid-way through a state visit to the UK. Before he even landed on British soil, President Donald Trump stirred up controversy by tweeting his disparaging thoughts about London Mayor Sadiq Kahn. Whatever view one might hold about the propriety of Trump’s visit, we all know that 31-gun salutes and tea with the queen are about more than niceties. Sure enough less than 24 hours into the state visit, presidential talk turned to trade, with Trump backing out-going Prime Minister Theresa May to complete Brexit negotiations and promising a “phenomenal” trade deal between the US and UK. But all this is set against the backdrop of all-out trade war between the US and China at the same time that Europe is involved in somewhat more Cold War-esque trade skirmishes with China as well. The questions are: do such measures work? And what do they mean for the tyre business?
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has voiced its disapproval of US President Trump’s aim to impose 25 per cent tariffs on a range of products imported from China; the US-based association, which represents the vehicle aftermarket, says it opposes these tariffs as well as the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminium and the threatened tariffs on imported cars and automotive parts – it considers them “as misplaced and having the potential to impose significant harm on US businesses and consumers.”
The tyre industry has seen its fair share of import tariffs in recent years. The largest scale of these, across the widest range of products, was initiated by the US against Chinese produced car tyres in 2009. That president has been and gone since then (as have further tariffs on car tyres and OTR tyres), but still tariffs are making a huge impact on the tyre industry in the USA and beyond.
US president Donald Trump has announced plans to impose 25 per cent tariffs on US$50 billion worth of Chinese goods, according to various leading news sources. The tariffs affecting over 800 products including aircraft tyres and are due to come into effect on 6 July. The White House said it would consult on tariffs on the other $16 billion of products with a view to applying these later.
Members of the US Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA – and other leading executives – have sent a letter to President Trump urging him to rethink the proposed 25 percent tariffs on imported steel. The letter cites significant, negative impacts to US manufacturers with cascading detriments to US commerce and the economy.
No review of 2016 would be complete without some reference to Brexit. Before the referendum result on 23 June, few people thought it would happen. Now the vote of 52 per cent in favour of leaving the European Union has long been counted, we can’t avoid talking about Brexit. Furthermore, with Donald Trump having won the US presidential election on 8 November in what he predicted would be “Brexit+++” the impact of the UK vote has taken on even greater significance.