The U.S. auto industry prompted President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday not to saddle imported cars and auto parts with steep tariffs, following the U.S. Commerce Department action to send a confidential report to the White House late on Sunday with its recommendations for how to move forward.
Some trade organizations also criticized the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its “Section 232” national security report shrouded in secrecy, which will make it much tougher for the industry to respond during the next 90 days Trump will have to evaluate it.
“Secrecy around the report only increases the uncertainty and concern across the industry created by the threat of tariffs,” the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association stated, noting that it was “alarmed and dismayed”.
“It is critical that our industry have the opportunity to review the recommendations and advise the White House on how proposed tariffs, if they are recommended, will put jobs at risk, impact consumers, and trigger a reduction in U.S. investments that could set us back decades.”
Spokespersons from the White House and the Commerce Department could not immediately be contacted.
The industry has cautioned that possible tariffs of up to 25 percent on millions of imported cars and parts would bring thousands of dollars to vehicle costs and potentially devastate the U.S economy by cutting jobs.
Administration officials have stated tariff threats on autos are a way to win concessions from Japan and the EU. In 2019, Trump agreed not to impose tariffs as long as discussions with the two trading partners were proceeding in a productive manner.
Some Republican lawmakers have also stated they share the industry’s issues.
In a statement released on Monday, Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski stated she fears the Commerce Department’s report could “set the stage for costly tariffs on cars and auto parts”.
“President Trump is correct to seek a level playing field for American businesses and workers, but the best way to do that is with a scalpel, not an axe,” she included.