SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump may not follow Elon Musk on Twitter, but the Tesla Inc. CEO's posts decrying China’s automotive trade practices managed to catch his attention.
In announcing his order to implement tariffs on steel and aluminum Thursday, Trump read off tweets Musk sent hours earlier noting that China charges a 25 percent import duty on cars, ten times the 2.5 percent levy the U.S. puts on China-built vehicles.
“That’s from Elon, but everybody knows it,” Trump said. “They’ve known if for years, they never did anything about it. It’s got to change.”
Musk’s lobbying-by-tweet hinted at his frustration over struggling to get a deal done with Shanghai’s government to assemble cars there. An agreement hasn’t been finalized because the two sides disagree on the ownership structure for a proposed factory, people with direct knowledge of the situation have told Bloomberg News. China’s central government is pushing for the plant to be a joint venture with local partners, while Tesla wants to own the factory completely, the people said.