By on December 6, 2019

Replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has proven difficult for the Trump administration. Trade negotiations have progressed slowly, with Mexico, Canada, and the United States rarely seeing eye-to-eye on most issues. Some of the biggest problems have dealt with content requirements.

The latest hangup stems from a rule requiring 70 percent of the steel and aluminum found in North American vehicles to come from the same continent in order to ensure a duty-free existence. Mexico isn’t keen on the proposal — as it sources a large amount of metal from Brazil, Japan and Germany. Meanwhile, the United States is attempting to use the inclusion to appease the United Steelworkers union and keep labor-focused jobs in the country.  (Read More…)

By on October 30, 2019

The Trump administration has reportedly expressed an interest in deciding where and how automotive manufacturers do their business if they want to secure duty-free deals under the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) that’s positioned to replace NAFTA. According to Bloomberg, there’s currently a discussion taking place between administration officials, congressional staff, and domestic and foreign automakers regarding the context of the legislation that lawmakers will ultimately have to vote on. The White House is said to want highly specific language that would allow it to select production rules unilaterally.

Considering how messy things have gotten with China, it could be useful to have extremely clear trade language and some direct oversight of businesses with global interests. But critics are worried the strategy could bring U.S. trade policy closer to the rigid policies already in place in the People’s Republic — a country America has attempted to distance itself from due to its ludicrous levels of government intervention.

The real fear is that the government could use this to give one manufacturer better treatment than another — cutting it a sweet deal for building in a politically advantageous area, for example. While plausible, we can’t confirm something that’s largely speculative.  (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2019

China has fined Ford Motor Company’s main joint venture in the country, Changan Ford Automobile Co., over antitrust violations. However, the more likely scenario is that the People’s Republic is trying to flex some muscle after the Trump administration declared a ban on doing business with Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications provider, on national security grounds.

The oversimplified gist of the situation is that America doesn’t trust a telecom firm with direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party that could easily be tapped by the Chinese government for espionage. Several countries banned Huawei equipment earlier this year after the U.S. Justice Department unsealed a raft of indictments, included 23 counts pertaining to the alleged theft of intellectual property, obstruction of justice, and fraud relating to sanctions against Iran.  (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2019

It’s been nearly a year since President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker kissed and negotiated a temporary truce aimed at buying the United States and the EU time to renegotiate their positions without fear of new tariffs.

Unfortunately, it seems everyone had better things to do following the smooch. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2019

Guangzhou Automobile Group, better known as GAC Motor, has delayed plans to commence sales of Chinese-branded cars in the United States. Apparently, there’s some kind of trade dispute between the the two countries that influenced the company’s decision.

However, back in 2018, GAC Motor was at the North American International Auto Show telling yours truly that it planned to ship product to the U.S. as early as the following year (as PR reps simultaneously requested we stop commenting on the faux tailpipes we noticed on several models).

Months later, GAC revised its business plan. The entry into the America market would come closer to 2020, it said. Now, the automaker claims the trade war has forced it to postpone things even further. This time, there’s no target. (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2019

While it’s difficult to muster sympathy for giant corporations, the trade war current raging between the United States and China has left many stuck in an industrial limbo. Automakers want a bigger slice of the global market, but putting your eggs in either country’s basket will result in repercussions from the other.

We’re not saying this to promote some kind of commiseration for multinational companies; rather, it’s simply to remind everyone of how the auto industry has to conduct its business. Frequently, carmakers must play both sides. Toyota, already one of the world’s largest automakers, knows this better than anyone, and new documents shed light on some of the cloak-and-dagger aspects of maintaining its high-volume position.  (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2019

Following an announcement that trade discussions with China had effectively broken down, President Donald Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion in goods from the country on Friday. The White House also issued an ultimatum, saying Beijing had about a month to reach an agreement before the U.S. enacts another 25-percent duty on $325 billion previously unaffected Chinese imports.

White the trade war has been in full swing for most of Trump’s time in office, the White House had indicated that discussions with China were progressing at the start of May. That changed after the People’s Republic returned a modified trade agreement that removed much of the legal language that would have made it binding while reneging on other aspects U.S. negotiators already assumed were settled. President Trump cited the backtracking as the primary reason for imposing a new round of tariffs.

Fortunately, the U.S. International Trade Commission said the tariff hike would only affect $2.3 billion worth of automotive goods — ranking them 10th on the list overall.  (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2019

Even though the United States plans to impose heftier trade duties on China tomorrow, and vice versa, automakers remain confident that the White House will decide to delay the hiking of other automotive tariffs on national security grounds.

The Commerce Department submitted its Section 232 national security report in February, leaving President Trump until May 18 to act. But manufacturers believe the preferred move will be to postpone the final decision another six months.  (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2019

The United States made good on a threat to impose higher tariffs on a new raft of Chinese goods Wednesday, days after the the People’s Republic reportedly backtracked on nearly every element of a draft trade deal hammered out by the two countries.

The 25 percent tariff officially hits $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday, according to a Federal Register notice. As we told you yesterday, U.S. trade representatives reportedly took issue with China’s reluctance to change its laws to protect the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2019

The United States could impose a 25 percent import tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods by the end of this week — the result of threats issued by President Donald Trump following a reported about-face on the part of Chinese officials negotiating a new trade deal with the U.S.

At the core of the dispute? Intellectual property rights, sources claim. (Read More…)

By on April 23, 2019

Last summer, the European Union imposed an additional 25-percent import duty on top of the existing 6-percent tariff levied on large motorcycles. Established as a response to the United States’ duties on steel and aluminum, the move crippled Harley-Davidson’s ability to thrive in the European market — a region that accounts for about one-sixth of its global volume.

While much of the media is focused on framing Donald Trump for Harley’s plight, the situation is a little more complicated. The president’s tariffs did indeed spur the EU’s retaliatory fees, but it was Europe that decided to place its crosshairs upon the iconically American motorcycle brand. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2019

On Thursday, President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on cars entering the United States from Mexico if the nation doesn’t assist Washington in dealing with the migrant situation at its southern border. It’s a rather bold ultimatum, coming hot on the heels of claims that the White House was seriously considering closing the border entirely if Mexico could not curtail the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs heading north.

It’s an interesting situation, especially considering both outcomes would upend the automotive industry. But Trump argues that the growing reliance on Mexican manufacturing and proliferation of illegal immigrants has already hurt the United States badly. A contentious stance, for sure, but these are issues in need of thorough discussion. Gallup polls repeatedly peg immigration as one of the issues voters care most about — along with healthcare and the economy.

However, we only care about those things tangentially. It’s all about the cars for us.  (Read More…)

By on March 3, 2019

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will be in Michigan this week to meet with union leaders from United Auto Workers in a bit to gain their approval for the Trump administration’s new North American free trade deal. Lighthizer is scheduled to meet with union officials in Dearborn on Tuesday to answer questions about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) while simultaneously drumming up support.

The USMCA deal suggests increasing existing requirements for North American content for vehicles, stipulating that 40 percent of a vehicle’s overall content be manufactured in areas paying at least $16 an hour, while also encouraging Mexico to tailor its labor rules to allow unions to wield legitimate collective bargaining powers.  (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2019

Earlier this week, the European Union warned that if the United States imposes any new tariffs on European-built vehicles, it can expect similar levies on American products. However, armed with the Commerce Department’s confidential report on automotive imports, President Donald Trump doesn’t appear remotely interested in backing down.

While Trump previously agreed not to impose additional duties on European cars, the arrangement hinged upon the two coming together on trade. Unfortunately, while both sides seem eager to work out a deal, they can’t quite manage to keep the constant threats down to a dull roar.  (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2019

ford logo

Ford Motor Company has reportedly informed British Prime Minister Theresa May of its tentative plan to move out of the United Kingdom. The automaker explained the situation to May during a private call with business leaders tasked with assessing how Brexit might impact the economy. Ford said it was already preparing to move its facilities — which include two engine plants, a transmission factory, and an R&D center — abroad.

With the European Union and British government still unable to establish trade terms, automakers are having a panic attack. Ford later told Reuters that a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for its European-based businesses, citing earlier claims that it would cost the manufacturer up to $1 billion. (Read More…)

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