US claims Vietnamese tires subsidized by weak currency, imposes import duties

By Dat Nguyen   November 5, 2020 | 08:41 pm PT
US claims Vietnamese tires subsidized by weak currency, imposes import duties
Car tires on display at a store. Photo by Shutterstock/New Africa.
The U.S. has slapped preliminary countervailing duties of 6.23-10.08 percent on Vietnamese tires, alleging they are subsidized by an undervalued currency.

The duties, which apply to imported passenger vehicle and light truck tires, were announced by the Commerce Department on Thursday, after United Steelworkers, a trade union with members across North America, filed a petition in May claiming domestic production was hurt by Vietnamese products.

There will be a final determination on the case in March next year.

This is the first time that the U.S. has imposed countervailing duties based on currency value.

The U.S., under President Donald Trump, has in recent years been accusing Vietnam of manipulating its currency to gain an unfair trade advantage and a large trade surplus.

Vietnamese authorities have repeatedly said their exchange rate policies are not aimed at helping exports to the U.S.

Deputy Foreign Ministry Spokesman Duong Hoai Nam said at a press briefing Thursday that Vietnam has been following this investigation since it was launched.

"Vietnam will continue to coordinate with U.S. authorities to clarify and better understand the situation and protect the legitimate interests of Vietnamese businesses in accordance with World Trade Organization regulations."

Central bank governor Le Minh Hung said last month that the country "has not intended and will not intend to use monetary policies in general and exchange rates in particular to create unfair competitive advantages in international trade."

The U.S. is also conducting anti-dumping duty investigations related to light vehicle tires imported from Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, and will announce the preliminary results next month.

Vietnam’s passenger tire exports to the U.S. rose by 14 percent last year to $469.6 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"The Trump Administration remains vigilant against foreign actors that take advantage of American workers and businesses, and we will continue addressing this issue to ensure American industry competes on a level playing field," Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

Experts have expressed concern that more countervailing and anti-dumping duties will be imposed on Vietnamese goods based on allegations of currency manipulation should Trump win the ongoing presidential election.

The Trump administration has initiated 297 anti-dumping and countervailing investigations, a 271 percent increase from the comparable period during the previous one.

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