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Trump's Next Target: Auto Imports

They may be labeled a security threat
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2018 12:43 AM CDT
A worker lifts steel tubing to be shipped out from Metals 2 Go at their plant in Waco, Texas.   (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)
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(Newser) – Having tangled with China on trade and angered US allies with steel tariffs, President Trump is primed for his next fight: autos. Trump's latest plan is to consider slapping tariffs on imported autos and auto parts—a move he says would aid American workers but that could inflate car prices, make US manufacturers less competitive, and draw retaliation from other nations, the AP reports. The action has also begun to provoke a backlash among members of Congress. 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 and other companies that build cars in America are opposed. They rely on imported parts that would be subject to the tariffs, thereby raising automakers' costs. "There is no automaker that has 100% exclusively US-sourced parts," says Brian Krinock, Toyota's senior vice president for North American factories. "It is a global business with global operations."

(Read more auto industry stories.)

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