Trump investigation of auto imports raises fears of new tariffs

Trump administration launches vehicle import probe

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday the investigation was still in its early stages but that other countries' high, artificial barriers, such as tariffs and other interventions, have skewed the marketplace.

"If the tariffs actually went into effect, it would upend the supplier industry", said Ann Wilson, senior vice president for government affairs at Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, which represents auto parts makers.

"Contrary to the assumption underlying the investigation on import vehicles, the US auto industry is thriving", Bozella said.

"The Department of Commerce will conduct a thorough, fair, and transparent investigation into whether such imports are weakening our internal economy and may impair the national security". President Trump used the same provision of US trade law in March when he called for tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum.

The Trump administration has framed proposed vehicle tariffs, along with the levies imposed earlier this on steel and aluminum imports, as a means to ensure the vitality of key domestic industries.

The administration is weighing auto tariffs of up to 25%, according to The Wall Street Journal. Trump said on Tuesday the US may instead require that ZTE appoint a new board of directors and pay a "very large fine" of perhaps $1.3 billion.

"But I will tell you, in the end, we win. This path leads inevitably to fewer choices and higher prices for cars and trucks in America", Bozzella said.

In a Twitter message on Wednesday, he said, "There will be big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers".

Trump administration launches vehicle import probe
In latest trade move, Trump may slap tariffs on car imports on national security grounds: sources

Talks over a replacement for the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement among the United States, Mexico and Canada have made limitedprogress. Almost half of the vehicles sold in the US are imported, with numerous vehicles coming from assembly plants in Mexico and Canada. German automakers stand to gain from this, as a third of the cars imported by China a year ago were built in Germany, according to the Financial Times.

Momentum in Congress is growing to check a US withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and earlier this month a bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives introduced the Trade Authority Protection Act, which would allow further congressional review of trade moves by the White House. "After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!" About 95 per cent of Canadian-made vehicles are exported to the United States.

BMW's 10,000-employee plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is its biggest worldwide.

Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Trump levelled the same accusations against Mexico, in regards to the ongoing NAFTA negotiations.

Trump's recourse to national security arguments for potential tariffs echoes his justification for the metals duties.

Trump had earlier blamed the USA neighbors to the north and south for being "difficult" in talks to renegotiate the pact. In 2017, 17.2m vehicles were sold in the U.S., compared with 15.63m in the EU and European Free Trade Association countries.

The value of trade imports into the European Union from the United States amounted to 6.157 billion euros while exports of EU-built cars to the United States amounted to 37.4 billion past year, representing nearly 30 percent of the total EU export value.

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