U.S. mold makers have been trying to claw back work from Chinese mold companies for more than two decades, stressing to OEMs that, in spite of cheaper prices, Chinese molds lack quality and productivity. On November 29, the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA; Indianapolis) filed a formal comment with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) requesting that it not extend the exclusion granted to importers of paying a 25% tariff on plastic injection molds from China for another year.
Importers and manufacturers had until Nov. 30, 2019, to register their support or opposition to extending the tariff suspension or reinstating the 25% tariff on Chinese imports. The comments were requested ahead of the scheduled Dec. 29, 2019, deadline, when the USTR is scheduled to reinstate the tariffs.
“AMBA members report they have the capacity, capabilities and willingness to meet current and future mold building demand,” stated AMBA. To counter the lack-of-supply argument advanced by some importers, AMBA demonstrated to the federal government that the United States
- is home to 1,439 mold-building establishments;
- has nearly $500 million in open mold-building capacity;
- maintains a utilization rate of 75%; and
- can match China’s delivery times while exceeding quality.
AMBA also noted that U.S. molds are critical to national and economic security.
The formal submission to USTR references a recent survey by Harbour Results Inc., manufacturing consultants with expertise in downstream industries, which “showed that 60% of mold builders reported losing more business in 2019 to low-cost countries compared to previous years.”
“We recognize the challenges of seeking structural reforms in China and applaud USTR for working to address these issues long overlooked by previous administrations,” said Kym Conis, Managing Director. “However, we remain concerned too many [import exclusion] requesters are using price as their primary motivation for requesting a 301 tariff exclusion extension and have not made significant efforts to identify U.S. or third-country alternatives, which are readily available.”
In July 2018, the U.S. government imposed a 25% tariff on imported plastic injection molds from China; however, a 12-month exclusion from the tariffs was granted to U.S. importers on Dec. 28, 2018. Over 150 mold-building manufacturers have filed comments opposing an extension of the tariff suspension, clearly demonstrating sufficient capacity exists in the United States to meet demand.
AMBA added that it looks forward to working with the Trump administration to strengthen manufacturing in the United States and make sure that American mold builders continue to provide thousands of jobs across this country and supply plastic injection molds for decades to come.