Tyre industry under threat

Without immediate intervention, the futures of 2,500 employees across the UK’s tyre industry are under threat according to the Retread Manufacturers Association.

The statement comes in response to this week’s announcement that Tata Steel is to cut 1,050 jobs in the UK – including 750 at Port Talbot, the UK’s biggest steelworks – as a result of a flood of cheap imports, particularly from China.

In the same way as the deluge of cheap imports has damaged British steel, the ‘dumping’ of cheap tyres from China into the UK market is devastating the retread tyre industry with direct implications for employment, the tyre recovery programme and the environment.

The Retread Manufacturers Association (RMA) is calling for urgent action to allow the UK retread industry to compete on an equal footing with the cheap and subsidised imports coming in from China.

Representatives from the RMA and the tyre industry have already raised the matter with ministers from the Department for Business to press for urgent measures to address the threat already being felt across the UK and Europe.

The situation becomes clear by simply comparing the cost of raw materials with the retail price of Asian imports. For a truck tyre, which typically weighs 60 kilos, the materials cost approximately £1.16/kilo, giving an overall total cost of £70. Meanwhile, Chinese imports are being sold at around £73, leaving a margin of just £3 for manufacturing, transportation, import duty and profit.

The RMA asserts it is impossible for a commercial operation to retail tyres at this price without significant subsidy from a backing organisation or government.

At the meeting with minsters, the RMA reiterated that of the €1 billion the industry generates across the European Union, 60% is generated by SME businesses, which are particularly vulnerable to the impact of dumping practises.