Media Moves

Coverage: Auto makers push back on Trump’s proposed tariffs

July 19, 2018

Posted by Chris Roush

President Donald Trump is considering slapping tariffs on imported autos and auto parts, a move he says would aid American workers but that could inflate car prices, make U.S. manufacturers less competitive and draw retaliation from other nations.

Paul Wiseman, Christopher Rugaber and Tom Krisher of the AP had the news:

On Thursday, manufacturers, suppliers, car dealers and foreign diplomats will line up to testify at a Washington hearing to try to head off auto tariffs. After the hearing, the Commerce Department will decide whether to label imported vehicles and auto parts a threat to America’s national security and whether to recommend tariffs to the president.

In announcing the auto investigation in May, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had said, “There is evidence that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry.”

Yet even General Motors, which ostensibly would benefit from a tax on its foreign competition, is opposed to Trump’s plan.

And even considering the administration’s trade war with China over Beijing’s predatory practices in high-tech industries and even after imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from America’s closest allies, Trump’s auto tariffs raise the ante substantially: The U.S. last year imported $192 billion in vehicles and $143 billion in auto parts — figures that dwarf the $29 billion in steel and $23 billion in aluminum imports and the $34 billion in Chinese goods the administration has so far hit with tariffs.

Burgess Everett of Politico reported two senators want to introduce legislation to block the tariffs:

Sens. Doug Jones and Lamar Alexander are planning to introduce a bill next week to halt President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on European automakers, hoping to shield the automotive industries in the South from more economic blowback from U.S. allies.

The Alabama Democrat and Tennessee Republican said on Wednesday they are working on legislation with support from senators in both parties aimed at preventing the president from imposing unilateral tariffs on foreign automakers.

Alabama and Tennessee have large automotive factories that build cars and trucks for European, Asian and domestic manufacturers, and senators from auto-producing states say Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs on Europe, Mexico and Canada are already harming those industries.

Now they worry things are about to get worse with the Trump administration’s threatened tariffs on imported autos and auto parts.

Jim Henry of reported that the confrontation has been brewing for a while:

The hearings and potential confrontation have been brewing since the Commerce Department initiated an investigation, “to determine the effects on the national security of imports of automobiles, including cars, SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts.”

That was on May 23. The investigation echoes a similar action regarding imported aluminum and steel, which the auto industry also — vainly — opposed.

For automakers — especially for a long list of foreign automakers with U.S. factories — the notion stings that imported autos could pose a threat to the U.S. national security.

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