By on May 30, 2018

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)]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

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

  • avatar

    There’s a Red under every bed. Squawk. They’re poisoning our precious bodily fluids. Squawk. Imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry. Squawk.

    With brainpower like this on display, perhaps it’s time for the US to pull a sheet over its head and hide away from the cruel cruel world. Of course, it’s quite all right for the US to extend commercial data gathering abroad by Google, Facebook, etc., maintain 800 military bases abroad and invade 70 countriez since WW2. Why don’t these foreigners realize it’s okay for us to do it to them, but not for them to do it to us. Squawk.


  • avatar

    What? No online comments to the Commerce Department? Not giving us a whole lot of time to respond.

  • avatar

    America is going into dark directions; steering away from the enlightenment that once give birth to it. We can only hope for a change of course away from inward-looking irrelevance, insular folly, and moral and intellectual dwarfism.

  • avatar

    Note to readers: Tariffs is a pretty words for “taxes” and taxing popular goods coming into the US at 25% will increase prices for the end buyer. It will also provoke a similar response from impacted nations that will hurt US exporters. It’s a big, job losing, economy killing schmozzle all around. The US has a large domestic market, but still not big enough raise the price of imports and invite retaliation on its many, many exporters.

    • 0 avatar

      If the Japanese pay me a few hundred bucks I’ll sell them your job. If you tell me I’m wrong for taking the deal, I’ll remind you that prevailing tariffs will tax away the rebate I worked so hard to get. Don’t complain or you’ll be an illiberal troll hellbent on spreading poverty and ushering in the next Great Depression. Nevermind that the Great Recession was actually caused in part by the massive imbalance in US current and capital account balances.

  • avatar

    “There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry,” :D

    Hilarious! I almost spewed what I was drinking! Couldn’t have had anything to do with the comparative quality of the cars that were stamped out by the big 3 for years, could it now old biased Wilbur? Trust Wilbur to be fair and transparent – there’s another drink spewer! Comedy at its best today!

    National security my ass. It has nothing whatsoever to do with national security. It has everything to do with Trump by-passing Congress and the House and thereby being a Dictator. If you can’t get that, then just watch what gets the national security label whenever its convenient. These are NOT powers Trump has. Republicans and Democrats alike both have no spine, this is all allowed like its a virtual game. Its not.

    • 0 avatar

      “It has everything to do with Trump by-passing Congress and the House and thereby being a Dictator.”

      Barry Soetoro please pick up the white courtesy phone.

    • 0 avatar

      “If Trump is Hitler then why is my train late?” – Somebody, 2017

    • 0 avatar

      Rants aside, this is absolutely a power that the president has, according to the Trade Expansion Act. Congress authorized it and everything.

      As for Trump being a dictator, let’s wait until January 21, 2025. If he’s still in office, we’ll talk about it.

  • avatar

    I don’t think domestic auto production (whether US or foreign owned) is as important to national security as it once was (for example, Willow Run churning out Liberator bombers in WW2).

    Using national security as an excuse for a review is just a way to bypass the ‘ne’er-do-wells’ in congress. It seems that our glorious leaders tactic is to threaten to upset the apple cart, then when all is said and done something more pragmatic may or may not happen in the end…..

  • avatar

    How would these tariffs effect someone like Buick who are basically importing a Opel as Regals?

  • avatar

    America is a service economy and we do not need low tech auto-manufacturing. We have Tesla. Let GM and Ford die. Future weapons will be battery based electric autonomous tanks and jets.

  • avatar

    Well, there goes the new 4Runner I was planning later this year.

  • avatar

    Do what must be done. The average American is clueless about the mechanics of our trade deficit, and oblivious to the synthetic capital investment schemes used by our trade partners to sustain and grow the US deficit. Most economists who aren’t in the back pocket of a banking concern understand the deliberate siphoning of middle class wealth from the United States to our trading partners, and most of them realize that investing with an irrational preference for the US market not only stunts long term economic growth, but also puts the global economy at great risk (Great Recession).

    There are many national defense facets to the current global trading regime, and they need to be fleshed out and addressed by commerce.

  • avatar

    25% is a negotiation tactic. Then settling on 10% isn’t so bad. But why should US built autos be subject to much higher tariffs imported into a particular foreign market, than that market’s home built autos imported into the US?

    Who the hell negotiated that?


  • avatar

    Tariffs to protect whats left of steel/alum industry.
    Now suggestions we need to shore up whats left of domestic auto industry?

    Ross bailed out Trump after the Taj Mahal fiasco but Ross also spent something like twenty seven years working for Rothschild. He later bought up bankrupt steel interests in 2002 and thus personally profits from steel tariffs. No matter what the fake news says he and Mnuchin (grandson of I believe Salomon Rothschild out of NYC) are heavy hitters so pay attention to whatever they say/do.

    Steel, aluminum, and auto production are national security issues, but the fact they keep parroting them suggests they expect some kind of sustained economic or military conflict in the coming years.

    Buckle up.

    • 0 avatar

      People said the same thing when Reagan started the military build up in the 80s and pursued his Make America Great Again platform.

      This is just history repeating. Every nefarious bottom-feeder who passes through Washington DC has roughly the same plan; dismantle the military, pursue appeasement with taxpayer money, backchannel trade with foreign nations, and expand the least useful forms of social welfare. I don’t think anyone was more successful in this capacity than Nixon, but LBJ was close, and Obama was trying to follow in both of their footsteps.

      Presidents who want to restore the United States must therefore spend on defense, eliminate appeasement policies, focus on national security, negotiate trade and tariffs publicly, and trim the fat in social welfare programs by putting people back to work and making reforms.

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      US footprint-specific CAFE standards have little to do with mass-specific emissions targets in the EU, Japan, and China. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

      Furthermore, the Big 3 are not necessarily related to auto exports. The US is the assembly locations for many unique vehicle formats, and we can export those regardless of the hood ornament. Also, some vehicles that sell almost exclusively in the US, like left hand drive 4Runners, should be built in the US, or are you trying to kill the globe with shipping emissions?

      • 0 avatar

        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.

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • Lou_BC: @Jeff S – I’ve moved between truck classes based on my needs. My 1st truck was a regular cab...
  • Corey Lewis: Wow, dark end.
  • Oberkanone: Nice vehicle. It’s outdated goodness is reminder of Toyota quality of the past when vehicles were a...
  • bullnuke: My neighbor worked for Frigidaire in Moraine. When it shutdown he came home after stopping by the bar up on...
  • FreedMike: Oooooh, stripes! Snark aside, the look is actually pretty cool. Toyota seems to have gotten a good deal on...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber