China, Japan Slam Trump Move on Auto Tariffs

Beijing will 'firmly defend' its rights
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 24, 2018 12:11 AM CDT
Chinese customs officials inspect cars being loaded for export at a port in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province.   (Chinatopix via AP)
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(Newser) – On Thursday, China and Japan both condemned the Trump administration's decision to launch an investigation into whether tariffs are needed on imports of vehicles and automotive parts into the United States. China's Commerce Ministry said Beijing would "firmly defend" its rights and interests against what it called the Trump administration's abuse of national security provisions in trade, the AP reports. Japan's minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Hiroshige Seko, said Japan, which accounts for about 40% of US vehicle imports, will continue to remind US officials that any trade measures must conform to the rules of the World Trade Organization. If such a measure is taken, "it would be an extremely far-reaching trade sanction that would put the global market into turmoil," he said.

A person familiar with the discussions says President Trump has suggested seeking new tariffs of 20% to 25% on automobile imports. Trump has invoked a provision authorizing the president to restrict imports and impose unlimited tariffs on national security grounds. The move comes as talks with Canada and Mexico over the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled. The White House said in a statement Wednesday that the president had asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to consider whether the imports of automobiles, including trucks, and automotive parts threaten US national security. The president said in the statement that "core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a nation."

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