Trade War Watch: U.S. Public to Have a Say on Auto Import Threat

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
trade war watch u s public to have a say on auto import threat

There was a mighty blowback against the Trump administration’s suggestion to elevate tariffs to as much as 25 percent on all foreign-built passenger vehicles.

Already reeling from fresh import fees on aluminum and steel, Europe expressed its collective distaste on new taxes while Japan vowed to plead a strong case for itself. Meanwhile, prominent politicians and two of the largest automotive trade groups in the country came forward to condemn the plan, stating it was “confident that vehicle imports do not pose a national security risk” to the United States.

While the administration has already launched its investigation to determine whether vehicle and auto part importers threaten the industry’s health and ability to develop advanced technologies, the government noted that a second opinion wouldn’t hurt. Announced on Tuesday in the Federal Register, the the Commerce Department will allot two days in July for public comments on the matter.

“There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement last week. Still, he promises to conduct a “thorough, fair and transparent investigation.”

According to Reuters, the issue may not be as clear-cut as Ross suggests. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says U.S. auto production has doubled over the past decade, adding that it’s worried the tariffs “would deal a staggering blow to the very industry it purports to protect and would threaten to ignite a global trade war.”

As for public opinion, the Commerce Department wants to hear from individuals on whether “innovation in new automotive technologies is necessary to meet projected national defense requirements,” as well as comments on the “displacement of any domestic automobiles and automotive parts causing substantial unemployment, decrease in the revenues of government, loss of investment or specialized skills and productive capacity.”

It hopes to gain clarity as to the role domestic production plays in national defense, and if foreign-owned factories influence that issue in a meaningful way. Written comments are due by June 22nd, with rebuttal comments scheduled for July 6th. Public hearings take place in Washington on July 19th and 20th.

[Image: Ken Lund/ Flickr ( CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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4 of 36 comments
  • Seanx37 Seanx37 on May 31, 2018

    Does this include Canada and Mexico? Because GM, Ford, and FCA are out of business in a month with tarriffs that large.

  • Voyager Voyager on May 31, 2018

    Security risk? What we have here is Detroit's failure to compete on markets outside the U.S., made worse by making CAFE and emission criteria less stringent under EPA idiot Pruitt. As a consequence, domestic market share has fallen too.

    • See 1 previous
    • Voyager Voyager on Jun 01, 2018

      @TW5 Yes, they do (the emission and efficiency criteria) - it's why American cars fall in higher tax brackets in the EU or are even unsalable altogether. Good example is the Mustang 5.0 V8. That one costs 120,000 euro in the country where I live, almost twice the price of a 4 cyl. 2.3 liter Mustang.

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.