Trump ponders new tariffs on foreign vehicles

Trump Initiates Trade Inquiry That Could Lead to Tariffs on Foreign Cars

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 USA national security. USA auto workers, he said, would be "very happy" with his upcoming announcement.

Not a one-way road: The US auto industry exported almost 2 million vehicles worldwide worth $US57 billion.

Media captionCan tariffs really save an industry?

"Core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a Nation", Trump added.

Initially, many saw this as referring to China's announcement Tuesday that it would make big reductions in its tariffs on imported cars.

Trump is making the announcement as negotiations with Canada and Mexico over the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled.

At a meeting with automakers at the White House on May 11, Trump told automakers he was planning to impose tariffs of 20 percent or 25 percent on some imported vehicles, sources told Reuters and specifically criticized German automakers for exporting a large number of vehicles to the United States.

German automakers Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG and BMW AG all have large USA assembly plants.

The White House could opt to negotiate with individual countries about whether auto tariffs take effect. Nearly one quarter of autos sold in the USA are imported, according to government figures.

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

Trade representatives from Canada, Mexico and the US continue negotiating a revised NAFTA agreement. That was more than 20 per cent of total US sales.

While no final decision has been made, Trump administration officials have briefed auto industry executives on the broad outline of the plan, according to the Wall Street Journal. It came after he tweeted earlier in the day that there will be "big news coming soon" for auto workers.

Presiden implies deal on NAFTA is near, but others dispute the notion.

Both Canada and Mexico proposed deals this month that would have resolved the auto issue in exchange for the USA dropping other contentious demands.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Wednesday that negotiators are still talking.

"The three of us agreed to be in constant contact, to be available to one another at any time, and we all agreed that the three of us are ready to jump on a plane and meet anywhere to get this done", she said.

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