Dorsey Intermodal
Dorsey Intermodal

U.S. chassis manufacturers reject blame for port backlogs

Oct. 14, 2021
Attributing supply chain problems to domestic container chassis suppliers would be harmful to U.S. workers if 'unfairly traded' chassis from China once again could be bought at subsidized prices, coalition says

A coalition of domestic trailer manufacturers have called on President Biden to support U.S. jobs by rejecting calls to remove recently set tariffs on intermodal container chassis from China.

The Oct. 13 letter to the President comes in reaction to the administration’s attempt to deal with the container backlog at U.S. ports and the resulting ripple effect throughout the supply chain. While the coalition “strongly” supports the plan outlined by the White House, the manufacturers argue that any suggestion that the China chassis tariffs should be removed is “misguided, wrong, and should be rejected.”

Executives representing companies including Cheetah Chassis Corp., Hercules Enterprises LLC, Dorsey Intermodal, Pratt Industries Inc. and Stoughton Trailers LLC signed the letter as the Coalition of American Chassis Manufacturers.

In a July 2020 petition filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, the same group alleged unfair trade practices by China, saying state-supported chassis suppliers had flooded the U.S. market with subsidized products. That claim was eventually supported by the commission and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce after an extensive investigation, resulting in the steep antidumping and countervailing duty tariffs affirmed a year later. Those duties would nearly triple the price of imported chassis from China.

But opposition from large intermodal trucking fleets, leasing companies and intermodal equipment providers countered that the U.S. manufacturers simply could not compete on the basis of chassis quality and production quantity, and that the domestic ramp-up would mean both soaring costs and a lag in chassis replacement during a surge in shipping.

But the coalition continues to push back, pointing to the immediate increase in chassis manufacturing investment.

“Since the imposition of the orders, America’s chassis manufacturers have hired hundreds of new workers, with plans to hire hundreds more, invested millions of dollars to increase production and capacity, and increased production and capacity by over 400% with additional planned expansions,” the letter states. “None of this would be possible without the remedial relief afforded by these orders.”

And shifting the blame for current supply chain problems to  U.S. chassis manufacturers is both wrongheaded and would  be harmful to U.S. workers if “unfairly traded” chassis from China could once again be bought at subsidized prices.

“We cannot let America’s chassis manufacturing be the scapegoat for a host of other supply chain issues,” the letter concludes. “The U.S. chassis industry is rebuilding and creating thousands of new, good-paying, family sustaining jobs. We ask that you support domestic chassis manufacturing and the communities we represent, creating more American manufacturing jobs as we work together to Build Back Better.”