General Motors has asked the U.S. government for an exemption from the tariff now placed on the China-made Buick Envision it distributes to American dealers.
But granting the exemption would be a bad idea. Too much is at stake to start making exceptions for a particular product.
If GM is afraid that the tariff puts its model at a disadvantage, then it should consider lowering the price or offering an incentive to maintain the Envision's competitiveness in America.
Today, there may be few models imported from China, but it's certain we will see an increase in the next couple of years. Several Chinese car companies are bound to set up dealer networks and make plans to import tens of thousands of vehicles.
It would be foolish to give one vehicle an exemption today just because the automaker happens to be GM. It would have a serious practical and political impact for quite some time.
Tariff and nontariff barriers have had a damaging effect on U.S. exports around the globe. Hopefully, the new tariffs on goods coming into America will eliminate those barriers.
If countries are willing to eliminate tariffs now in place, they must also be willing to eliminate nontariff barriers. Indeed, Ford, Mercedes and BMW have been dealing with the problem of unnecessary inspections of U.S.-built vehicles at Chinese ports.
GM has been hugely successful in China, selling more Buicks there than here. If it wants to offset the cost of the tariff with its U.S. dealers and customers, it can do so overnight. But it doesn't deserve an exemption.