Tag: WTO

By on May 19, 2020


The UK auto industry pales in comparison to the nearby German juggernaut, though Britons looking to purchase a new vehicle in the coming years might discover their preferred Teutonic ride has suddenly jumped in price.

That’ll be the reality come 2021 if the UK can’t come up with a new trade deal with its newly distant European Union neighbors. Post-Brexit, the country has no other choice at the current time but to impose default World Trade Organization tariffs of 10 percent on all European-built vehicles. (Read More…)

By on January 22, 2020

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump threatened to impose fresh tariffs on European automotive imports if the region can’t work out a trade deal with the United States. The good news is that the U.S. is already in the opening stages of negotiation with the United Kingdom, which is due to leave the EU at the end of January. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has even said a key benefit of Brexit is the ability to negotiate with countries like the U.S. independently.

Unfortunately, the rest of Europe doesn’t seem as eager to do business — encouraging Trump to fall back to tariff threats. But there’s clearly a retaliatory angle here. In 2018, the EU threatened punitive tariffs on traditionally American items like whiskey and motorcycles as a response to Trump’s intent to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. He’s targeting French goods this time, mentioning 100-percent fees on imported luxury goods from France (champagne, handbags, etc.), additional levies on digital services, and a 25 percent duty on European cars.  (Read More…)

By on May 12, 2017

robert_lighthizer 2017

I hope you’re fond of domestic automobiles.

The Trump administration is setting the table to make importing cars more difficult with the U.S. Senate confirming Robert Lighthizer in an 82-14 vote as the U.S. trade representative, prepping the country for an assertive trust from the White House’s America First trade strategy. (Read More…)

By on November 10, 2016

Ford Chihuahua Plant in Mexico

Not knowing what to expect from President-elect Donald Trump once he moves into the White House, automakers spend yesterday issuing nice-sounding congratulatory messages that masked an industry-wide concern over what happens next.

Formal pleasantries aside, one automaker feels that Trump’s policies could stand to benefit its bottom line. (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2013

Putin. Shutterstock user Frederic Legrand - COMEO

Less than a year after joining the WTO, Russia finds itself dragged in front of the same. The EU launched a formal trade dispute with Russia, claiming that its Eastern neighbor is “illegally protecting its carmakers with a recycling fee levied on imported cars,” as Reuters reports. (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2012

The United States will report China to the WTO tomorrow, Reuters says. The contention: China’s decision to impose extra duties on more than $3 billion worth of cars imported from the U.S. According to Reuters, “the complaint comes as President Barack Obama campaigns in Ohio, where auto plants have been affected by the duties.” The Prez goes on a “Betting on America” bus tour. (Read More…)

By on September 15, 2011

It is a regular occurrence. Every few months, the Lansing Senator Debbie Stabenow rushes to the aid of GM and Ford and defends them against the nasty Chinese. The problem is: GM and Ford don’t want or need her help. (Read More…)

By on February 5, 2009

Ever since bailout measures for the auto industry were first mooted, free market detractors whispered “WTO.” Nobody took it seriously. True, according to the World Trade Organization’s rules, direct subsidies are not allowed. But it’s equally important to note that the 153-member quango has never put a single issue to a vote since its birth in 1995. Consensus governance means that as long as nobody complains, and especially, as long as everybody plays the same game, the WTO hangs fire on principle. Auto industry loans? They’re all doing it. Still, there is a line a WTO member mustn’t cross. And America almost crossed it.

Recent amendments to Uncle Sugar’s near-as-dammit trillion dollar economic stimulus package would require US firms to use local steel and other components in state-funded projects. The provision kicked sand in the face of the WTO’s raison d’être: the most favored nation (MFN) rule.

Under the terms of the MFN rule, a WTO member must apply the same conditions on all trade with other WTO members. The provision also applies to trade within and without a given nation. “Imported and locally-produced goods should be treated equally (at least after the foreign goods have entered the market).” To do otherwise constitutes blatant protectionism.

Similar buy local protectionist measures have been adopted or considered in Argentina, China, Indonesia, Ecuador, India, Russia (re: imported used cars) and Vietnam. All seven WTO member nations have landed on a WTO ­surveillance list.

The Guardian writes that the European Union (EU) is pissed with the “buy American” bailout provision. They’ve threatened legal action and retaliatory measures against the US if the Obama administration enshrines this clause in its multibillion-dollar economic stimulus package. Brussels said it could take the US to the World Trade Organization for breaching treaty rules.

The warning came just a day after Joaquín Almunia, EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner, pointed to “clearly protectionist measures” emanating from Washington. The EU ambassador to Washington has expressed similar concerns. A spokesman for Lady Ashton, EU trade commissioner, said: “If the provisions that are finally passed by the US Senate and approved by President Obama infringe the provisions of the GPA [general procurement agreement], to which the US is a signatory, then this is something we will have to consider taking them to the WTO over.”

Compared to previous hints and “concerns,” this amounts to a barrage of warning shots. Amid fears that the US and other countries could trigger a disastrous 1930s-style “Great Depression” trade war through protectionist blocks on trade, the European commission highlighted similar moves in Europe.

A French €10b aid program requires firms to source components solely from France, keep only the French plants open and scrap plans to “de-localize” jobs to elsewhere in the EU. Neelie Kroes, EU competition commissioner, will warn French ministers in talks in Brussels that state aid must not only comply with competition rules but also with EU laws on freedom of movement and capital. “They have to realize that once they start down that protectionist path it’s a descent into chaos,” her aides said.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama signaled fear that Buy American provisions—supported by Democrats in steel-producing and economically distressed states—would trigger a trade war at a time when the global economy is in dire straits.

On Wednesday, lawmakers voted to soften the controversial “Buy American” provisions in the proposed U.S. economic stimulus package. The amendment, approved by the Senate, requires the Buy American provisions be “applied in a manner consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements.” Which is like saying you can burgle a house as long as you don’t break the law.

The bottom line for carmakers: even if America’s avoided a trade war (for now), they can’t win.

If the feds restrict the bailout buffet to The Big 2.8 and domestic production, they run the risk of retaliatory measures from neighbors—and markets—around the globe.

And don’t forget it’s a small world after all. In the run-up to the meltdown, Motown’s automaker practically demanded that its suppliers outsource abroad. By now, keeping the suppliers’ share of the domestics’ business within U.S. borders will be more about spin than compliance. Especially if those suppliers receive their requested $20.5b bailout.

On the other hand, if the feds don’t limit their largess to domestic producers, they run the very real risk of alienating whatever voter and/or union support exists for the pork barrel parade. A billion dollars of TARP money for Brazil? Esqueça-se.

On a practical basis, a truly “fair” bailout would put the domestics at a disadvantage.

Think of it this way: the existing Chrysler loans are equivalent to a current subsidy of $10k per vehicle sold. If, instead, you offered American car buyers $10k off a car, they wouldn’t buy a Chrysler. Clearly, you couldn’t offer the discount certificate just to Chrysler buyers. What kind of country would that be? Welcome to Bailout Nation.

Recent Comments

  • 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...
  • Jeff S: I meant Moraine OH not Loraine. The Moraine GM plant made Frigidaire appliances, then S-10s and S-15s, and...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

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