Category: Trade

By on September 25, 2018

2016 Toyota Prius Four - Image: Toyota

While the trade situation is still very much in flux, Toyota sees itself as standing to gain from the turmoil, just not in the United States. The automaker, along with other Japanese brands, finds itself in an advantageous position in China — a massive market facing its own troubles.

China’s anger at the U.S., and vice versa, could mean big bucks in the short term for Toyota. Read More >

By on September 21, 2018

nafta-secretariat

The United States is getting extremely close to having to move forward on its NAFTA deal with Mexico without Canada, according to White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett.

“I’m a little surprised that the Canadians haven’t signed up yet,” Hassett said in an interview with Fox News. “I worry that politics in Canada is trumping common sense because there’s a very good deal that was designed by Mexico and the U.S. to appeal to Canada. And they’re not signing up and it’s got everybody over here a little bit puzzled.”

On Thursday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met in Washington to discuss terms. However, no agreement was reached.  Read More >

By on August 31, 2018

U.S. Ford Focus production ended in May, but the automaker planned to import the next-generation Focus Active, a slightly lifted, mildly cladded five-door, in order to have something to sell to entry-level buyers. With the subcompact Fiesta ceasing production early next spring and the Fusion following it a couple of years later, that left very little low-end product for new or returning customers.

Well, scratch a crossoverized Focus off your shopping list. The automaker now says the Focus Active will not arrive on these shores in the latter part of 2019, or any date after that.

After learning this, how many of you are now pricing a three-cylinder, FWD EcoSport? Anyone? Hello? Read More >

By on August 31, 2018

Donald Trump, public domain

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump took a renewed interest in European tariffs after deciding he didn’t like what he saw. He argued it was time for the United States to consider a fresh tax on vehicles manufactured in the European Union to level the playing field. “If the EU wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on U.S. companies doing business there, we will simply apply a tax on their cars which freely pour into the U.S.,” he wrote in March.

A few months later, America floated the ridiculous-sounding proposal of abolishing all automotive tariffs between the U.S. and EU. Surprisingly, Europe was highly receptive. German Chancellor Angela Merkel even directly addressed the issue by saying she would support lowering EU tariffs on U.S. car imports. The European Union now seems willing to pursue a zero-tariff solution on automobiles.

However, Trump has since changed his tune. The new rhetoric coming from the White House is that the deal, which was originally pitched by the U.S., is no longer good enough.  Read More >

By on August 27, 2018

Trump

President Donald Trump announced a trade “understanding” with Mexico on Monday — not to be confused with an official deal — that would lead to an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump made the announcement from the Oval Office, with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto listening in by speakerphone.

While it’s still too early to show up in a Lockheed S-3 Viking and tell the world “mission accomplished,” the announcement is the most overt example of progress on NAFTA we’ve seen. Interesting, considering it seemed as if Trump was openly calling for its death during the meeting.

Earlier in the day, Mexican officials said trade talks with the U.S. had concluded, adding that an announcement could come later in the day. The White House confirmed the reports an hour later on its government website, with Donald Trump stating there was a “big deal looking good with Mexico” via twitterRead More >

By on August 24, 2018

If you’re anything like this author, you’ve probably abandoned discussing the North American Free Trade Agreement in your personal life. That’s not because it stopped being important, but rather due to the fact that none of the three countries involved seem capable of making any sort of progress.

Presently, the United States and Mexico are focusing on rules associated with automotive production. However, after two days of non-stop negotiation, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said the two sides haven’t resolved their differences on the pending issues. Now Mexico says it won’t consider further negotiations until Canada agrees to a deal.

Here’s where things get remarkably shitty. Canada has already explained that it’s waiting for the U.S. and Mexico to strike a deal of their own. “If they can resolve their differences on [automotive trade], then I think we can move ahead and have the three of us talk about some of the other issues that affect all of us,” David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S, said in an interview earlier this month.  Read More >

By on August 15, 2018

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Kurtz has an epiphany regarding himself, imperial conquest, and war as a whole, crying “The horror! The horror!” in his last moments of life. His experiences took him from a well-meaning businessman to a megalomaniacal warlord, only able to realize the full scope of his own corruption upon his death. Trade wars contain significantly less drama than real ones, but there is never a shortage of egotistical individuals falling down a rabbit hole of madness.

This week, a decree signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the tariff on U.S. cars to 120 percent. While this doesn’t qualify as truly horrific, it certainly could head in that direction if things continue to escalate.  Read More >

By on August 10, 2018

nafta-secretariat

Canada says it could rejoin the NAFTA discussion, just as the United States and Mexico approach an agreement on automobiles. The two nations engaged in bilateral negotiations a little less than a month ago, seemingly making positive headway on a trade deal.

With President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador assuming office in December, it’s in the United States’ best interest to close a deal as soon as possible. It’s assumed the man, frequently referred to as “AMLO,” will make sweeping changes to the Mexican government. However, he also promises to join forces with several smaller parties from both the right and left to create a coalition aimed at rooting out corruption. The resulting level of uncertainty has many fearing difficult Mexican policy changes and trade negotiations in the future, effectively forcing a restart of NAFTA talks.

According to David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., the duo are close to finalizing a deal on automotive manufacturing. If so, the Northern nation is prepared to rejoin negotiations.  Read More >

By on July 30, 2018

2017 Buick Encore - Image: Buick

The second quarter of 2018 returned pleasing sales figures for General Motors, but there were no champagne corks popping over Buick’s performance. While GM’s sales rose 4.6 percent compared to Q2 2017 (and 4.2 percent year-to-date), Buick sales headed in the opposite direction — down 12 percent in the quarter, and roughly six-tenths of one percent over the first half of the year.

Swirling menacingly in the background of all of this is a threat from President Trump to levy a 25 percent tariff on all automotive imports, a move that would leave Buick especially exposed. As numbers crunched by Automotive News show, the only thing sparing the brand from an emergency overhaul, should such a scenario come to pass, is a subcompact crossover — one which may or may not be exempt from the proposed tariffs. Read More >

By on July 26, 2018

President Donald Trump agreed on Wednesday to refrain from imposing car tariffs while the United States launches negotiations to cut other trade barriers with the European Union. After a meeting at the White House, Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to begin talks that would also seek to resolve U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, as well as retaliatory duties from Europe.

It’s the first lull we’ve seen in the trade war in a while. Meanwhile, Chinese trade relations remain as bitter as ever.  Read More >

By on July 20, 2018

FCA Brampton Assembly Line Challenger & 300 - Image: FCA

The thought of the U.S. imposing an import tax on Canadian vehicles and auto parts was once unthinkable, but the possibility now exists. Unable to ignore it any longer, Canada now says it will impose tariffs on American-built vehicles should the U.S. act first.

Canada’s contribution to the continent’s automotive landscape isn’t what it once was, but it’s still formidable when viewed in isolation. The Great White North, which continued building Studebakers for two models years after South Bend went dark, houses assembly plants operated by the Detroit Three, Honda, and Toyota.

With the glaring exception of pickup trucks, Canada would find itself with a (limited) crop of remarkably practical tariff-free vehicles if the taxes went into effect. Read More >

By on July 20, 2018

Citroen C4 Cactus, Image: PSA Group

PSA Group has a North American headquarters in Atlanta and it wants to use it. The French automaker also has a reentry plan that’s already underway. By the middle of the coming decade, we could all be behind the wheel of a French car (presumably after trading our Dodge Grand Caravans for the Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl).

Well, that might not happen — not if the U.S. imposes tariffs on the European Union, anyway. PSA North America Larry Dominique seems pretty worried that President Trump’s eagerness for tariffs could kibosh the company’s return, leaving mournful American francophiles gazing lustily over the Canadian border as PSA goes wild in Quebec. Read More >

By on July 19, 2018

Image: 'master blaster'

As the United States considers imposing new tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported automobiles and parts, the industry has rallied together to stand against the proposal. Manufacturers already made individual cases for themselves and are now dropping very bleak-sounding industry projections on the U.S. Commerce Department in the hopes of changing the administration’s mind.

However, President Donald Trump continues to promote the imposition of tariffs to force a sort of economic justice. For years, China’s protectionist policies regarding automobiles forced American manufacturers to build inside its borders and partner with Chinese firms for years. That’s something Trump claims could be a national security risk. China also recently upped its tax on American-made autos to 40 percent, shortly after promising to lower them. Meanwhile, Europe still holds a consistently higher tariffs on imported cars than the U.S., except for light trucks.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seems aware that China may have gamed the system in its favor, but appears less convinced that it’s a matter of national security. On Thursday, during a hearing on the probe into the industry, he said it was “too early” to say what the United States would do. Meanwhile, auto groups continue to make their terrifying case. (There’s also quite a bit of rolling PR in downtown D.C. today, as you’ll see below.) Read More >

By on July 19, 2018

2018 Volvo XC60, Image: Volvo Cars

Unlike Volvo’s S90 sedan, which is built half a world away from its V90 wagon stablemate, the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker has some flexibility in where it sources its XC60 crossover. Two plants — one in China, one in Torslanda, Sweden — crank out the second-generation utility vehicle, but the U.S. market gets its full share from the Orient.

After the Trump administration imposed a tariff of 25 percent on Chinese-built vehicles, Volvo’s XC60 suddenly found itself dragging a financial anchor. Hardly a great situation for a model that outsold all other Volvos in the U.S. last month. To side-step the tariff, Volvo’s already making changes.

Say goodbye to the Chinese XC60. Read More >

By on July 5, 2018

BMW SAV assembly plant South Carolina - Image: BMW

The fresh threat of new automotive and parts tariffs from the United States has everyone up in arms. We recently published an exhaustive list of comments manufacturers and local governments made to the U.S. Commerce Department. They, along with suppliers, universally despise the idea and are doing everything in their power to convince the Trump administration to reconsider. Many are even discussing the grim prospect of layoffs and suspending investments.

However, the president remained firm on doing whatever it takes to bolster domestic production and U.S. automotive exports while the world tried to make sense of his strategy. Was this a madman playing hardball and gambling with the industry’s future, or the work of a master dealmaker forcing others to come to the table? Perhaps a little of both?

Earlier this week, the U.S. ambassador to Germany told German car executives that President Donald Trump would suspend threats to impose tariffs on cars imported from the European Union if the European Union lifts duties on U.S. cars. But the wildest part of all of this is that both the automakers and the German government seem to be in support of it.  Read More >

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