WASHINGTON -- The trade association representing international automakers operating in the U.S. said Wednesday that imposing tariffs on imports of vehicles and parts for national security reasons would harm the auto industry by raising prices, lowering demand and inviting retaliation from trading partners.
The group predicted significant job losses in the U.S.
President Donald Trump has long complained about the U.S. trade deficit in automobiles, especially criticizing Germany and the European Union, and instructed his administration to investigate whether any action is needed to correct the imbalance. He has floated the possibility of a 25 percent import tax.
“America does not go to war in a Ford Fiesta,” Global President John Bozzella said in a conference call with reporters. “There is no national security justification for taxing imports of vehicles and parts or discriminating between global companies headquartered here or in allied countries. Every U.S. production facility in the industry could be made available in a national emergency, and the 130,000 Americans who work directly for international automakers are no less patriotic or willing to serve their country in a time of crisis than any other American.”
“If this investigation leads to tariffs, retaliation against U.S. exports is inevitable,” Bozzella added. "Substantial tariffs against major US auto exports have in fact already been announced, placing American auto workers on the front lines of this trade conflict.”
The Trump administration is investigating whether auto imports are a national security threat under authority in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 that has only been invoked on two occasions -- only one of which resulted in any trade action before the Trump administration.