United States mold and die makers are pushing Washington to keep 25 percent tariffs on Chinese molds, citing crucial advantages like sales and jobs growth in passionate pleas to the Office of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
President Joe Biden's administration is weighing whether to reduce or eliminate China tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018, but so far it has kept them in place as it continues its review.
About 60 of the 200 members of the American Mold Builders Association have flooded the trade agency with comments supporting the tariffs, the group said in a Sept. 22 news release.
AMBA lobbyist Omar Nashashibi told USTR that the section 301 import taxes are helping some 1,380 businesses generate more than $6.4 billion in annual sales and employ 35,000 Americans with an average annual salary of $56,203.
"We believe the sheer number of mold manufacturing establishments in the U.S. counters any arguments made by those requesting an end to the tariffs or an exclusion that no domestic alternative to Chinese mold imports exists," Nashashibi wrote.
But the debate is not over.
Because of how the government review is structured, those who opposed tariffs in the past, like plastics molding companies or importers, will now have a chance to submit their own formal comments to USTR.
A flood of more than 200 anti-tariff comments in late 2018, many from plastic molding companies, prompted the Trump administration to lift them for a year.
AMBA argues that the U.S. mold industry's capacity utilization rate of around 75 percent means American companies are a strong position to meet current demand and take on more work in the future.
USTR will consider the comments in its review of the 25 percent tariffs as well as 7.5 percent tariffs on more than 10,000 imports from China implemented July 6, 2018.
The tariffs then were suspended Dec. 28, 2018, at the request of importers claiming a lack of domestic mold shop supply only to be reinstated a year later following a push by AMBA and other supporters.
"In 2019, AMBA members and other manufacturers filed more than 150 comments and succeeded in calling on the USTR to reinstate the tariffs on plastic injection molds from China," said Kym Conis, AMBA managing director. "This industry is organized and mobilized to stand up to China's trade practices and will urge the Biden administration to keep in place this important trade tool."
Before the tariffs, Chinese shops sold molds and dies for as much as 40 percent lower than a comparable product manufactured by a domestic shop. As a result of the tariffs, Chinese mold shops reported between a 10 and 30 percent drop in revenue, helping level the playing field, Nashashibi said.