South Carolina acts to bring in Chinese tire company

By AMY HE | | Updated: 2017-06-20 04:27

South Carolina, home to five international tire makers, has taken a step to get a sixth company – Chinese tire maker Wanli Tire Corp, which wants to build a $1 billion plant in Orangeburg County.

A legislative panel on June 6 didn’t object to a request from the state Department of Commerce to borrow up to $40.5 million, Adrienne Fairwell, a spokeswoman with the department, said last Monday. The funds would be used to prepare the undisclosed site and build roads and a rail spur to it.

The request was "just another step in the process to secure a business" locating in South Carolina, she said. "There are still a number of details that need to be worked out and both parties must still go through corresponding approval processes, so it is too early to discuss anything further," she said, declining further comment.

If the deal goes through, Wanli’s plant will employ at least 400, and will eventually up to 1,200 at a factory that would be built in two phases over an eight-year period, the Charleston Post and Courier reported. The first phase of the plant could produce 6 million tires a year.

The five international tire companies in the state are Trelleborg Wheel Systems, Bridgestone, Michelin, Continental and Giti Tire, the latter of which has a plant opening later this year. The plants produce more than 100,000 tires a day and the state ranks first in tire experts.

Media reports have said that Daniel Young, director of grants and initiatives at the Commerce Department, met with Wanli executives in April to sign a letter of intent in Guangzhou during a China-US investment cooperation exchange.

Guangdong-based Wanli is a subsidiary of Vanlead Group. It is a joint venture of Guangzhou Wanli Group and Guangzhou South China Tire and Rubber Co, the latter of which was the first company in China to produce radial tires. Wanli produces 16 million tires a year with 2,100 employees, according to its website.

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