Trump may impose tariffs on car imports

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to impose new tariffs on imported vehicles, invoking a national security law that was used to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel.

President Donald Trump has pledged to revive American manufacturing and earlier this year criticised European auto imports and tariffs.

“There will be big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!” Trump said in a tweet.

The administration is considering launching a so-called ‘Section 232’ investigation into auto imports that could see tariffs of up to 25 per cent imposed on imports.

At a meeting with automakers at the White House on May 11, Trump told automakers he was planning to impose tariffs of 20 or 25 per cent on some imported vehicles, sources have told Reuters, specifically criticising German automakers for importing a large number of vehicles into the US.

Automakers think Trump might target the European Union and potentially Canada, Mexico and Japan.

The White House could opt to negotiate with individual countries about whether auto tariffs take effect. Trump would have to launch a probe before he could impose the tariffs.

John Bozzella, chief executive of Global Automakers, a trade group representing Toyota, Nissan Motor Co, Hyundai Motor Co and others, said tariffs on imported vehicles would hurt American consumers.

“The US auto industry is thriving and growing,” he said, noting 12 million cars and trucks were produced in the US last year.

“To our knowledge, no one is asking for this protection. This path leads inevitably to fewer choices and higher prices for cars and trucks in America.”

Trump has launched a series of trade actions, demanding China import more American goods, starting talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

The US imported 8.3 million vehicles in 2017 worth $US192 billion, including 2.4 million from Mexico, 1.8 million from Canada, 1.7 million from Japan, 930,000 from South Korea and 500,000 from Germany, according to US government statistics.

At the same time, it exported nearly 2 million vehicles worldwide worth $US57 billion.

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