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Auto industry tries to head off move toward car tariffs

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Having started a trade war with China and enraged U.S. allies with steel tariffs, President Donald Trump is primed for his next fight. He is targeting a product at the heart of the American experience: cars.

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 U.S. manufacturers less competitive and draw retaliation from other nations.

Manufacturers, suppliers, car dealers and foreign diplomats will line up today 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.