Buenos Aires Times


Trump backs potential new auto import tariffs

EU Trade Commissioner warned that retaliation would follow any US tariffs on autos.

Wednesday 28 November, 2018
President Donald Trump speaks about General Motors at a rally in November 2018.
President Donald Trump speaks about General Motors at a rally in November 2018. Foto:Alex Brandon/AP

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday indicated he favours imposing import tariffs to protect the US auto industry, which was rocked by this week's announcement of job cuts at General Motors.

In two tweets, the president said that extending tariffs already in place for foreign-built small trucks to the car sector would help domestic manufacturers.

"The reason that the small truck business in the U.S. is such a go to favourite is that, for many years, Tariffs of 25% have been put on small trucks coming into our country," he wrote. "If we did that with cars coming in, many more cars would be built here."

Trump told Congress to "get smart" and added: "The President has great power on this issue - Because of the G.M. event, it is being studied now!"

Trump's comments come as the Commerce Department finalizes its recommendations on whether tariffs make sense. A spokesman for the department said in a statement that it "has not yet submitted the final report to the President."

A German magazine reported that the measures could be announced as early as next week, targeting all autos apart from those made in Canada and Mexico.

The president, who has made trade wars a signature of his "America first" administration, was angered by GM's decision to cut thousands of jobs in a series of plant closures, including two in Ohio and Michigan.

And on Tuesday, Trump threatened to cut government subsidies to the auto giant, which was saved by a taxpayer bailout in the wake of the 2008 US financial meltdown.

But EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom warned that retaliation would follow any US tariffs on autos. "The EU has a retaliation tariffs list ready if the US imposes autos tariffs on the EU," she said Wednesday.

The EU has already retaliated against the United States earlier this year for the steep and what it says are "deeply unjustified" tariffs Trump imposed on steel and aluminium.

Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed in July to hold off on any new tariffs while negotiations are underway.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on China to come to a deal with the United States to avoid a massive new round of tariffs that Trump says are aimed at correcting decades of unfair Chinese trade practices.

He will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires at a dinner during the Group of 20 summit that runs Friday and Saturday.




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