- President Donald Trump is once again zeroing in on possible auto tariffs, which would be a massive escalation of his trade battles.
- According to a Bloomberg report, the White House is passing around a report on possible auto tariffs, and Trump is meeting with trade advisers about the idea on Tuesday.
- Placing tariffs on imported cars and trucks would cause substantial economic disruption.
President Donald Trump seems to be once again focused on imposing tariffs on imported cars and trucks, according to new reports, a move that would substantially escalate the president’s trade war.
According to a report from Bloomberg, the White House is internally circulating a draft report from the Commerce Department on auto tariffs. Trump plans to meet with his trade team on Tuesday to discuss the report. Releasing a Commerce Department report on auto tariffs would be the next formal step toward imposing such restrictions.
Trump has previously threatened to impose a 25% tariff on all autos and auto parts coming into the US to extract concessions from trading partners including the European Union and Canada. The Commerce Department has launched a formal investigation into possible auto tariffs under Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs on any good as long as there is a national security justification.
The process is the same used by the Trump administration to slap tariffs on steel and aluminium and the rules of the investigation require the Commerce Department to submit a report to the president by February
Almost no members of Trump’s cabinet – except hyper-protectionist adviser Peter Navarro – are in favour of auto tariffs, according to the news website Axios, due to the major economic disruptions the restrictions could cause. But Trump favours the tariffs as a way to extract concessions in trade discussions.
Automakers from around the world have warned that such tariffs would be devastating for their industry and likely cause substantial job losses in the US. A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that a 25% auto tariff would cost nearly 200,000 US jobs over a one to three-year timeframe.