The International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled that a surge of low-priced tyres from China is harming the US tyre industry.

Reacting to the announcement, representatives of the United Steelworkers (USW) union said that the surge in imports had caused major job losses and plant closures in the US.

'Our domestic industries cannot survive unless our government enforces the trade laws that are designed to curb and dissuade anti-competitive practices that cause market disruptions,' said USW president Leo W Gerard.

The United Steelworkers (USW) filed a petition with the ITC in April claiming that imports of consumer tyres from China increased from 2004 to 2008 by 215 per cent in volume and 295 per cent by value.

In 2008, China exported nearly 46 million tyres with a value of more than $1.7bn to the US, making it the largest source of tyre imports.

While imports nearly tripled in volume during the surge period, production of tyres produced in the US declined by more than 25 per cent.

The USW said that during this period, nearly 5,100 US tyre workers lost their jobs as a result of the massive erosion in domestic production that coincided with the increases in imports of consumer tyres from China.

About 3,000 more jobs are slated to be lost by the year’s end as three plants are threatening to close.

To combat this trend, the USW believes that the government should impose an import quota on China of 21m tyres used on passenger cars, light trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles per year.

The International Trade Commission will now send a report into its findings to the US president and the US trade representative.

The president will then decide whether to provide relief to the industry, as well as the type and duration of any such relief.