WASHINGTON — President Trump called for tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts Wednesday, potentially expanding to the auto industry the same protectionist measures he’s threatened on aluminum and steel.
Trump said he asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate whether the auto imports are a threat to national security. If so, he would be able to institute tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 — one of the strongest trade tools in the president’s arsenal.
“Core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a nation,” Trump said in a short statement released by the White House Press Office.
John Bozzella, CEO of Global Automakers, which represents foreign automakers doing business in the U.S. and some domestic parts suppliers, criticized the move.
“If these reports are true, it’s a bad day for American consumers,” he said. “The U.S. auto industry is thriving and growing. Thirteen, soon to be 14 companies, produced nearly 12 million cars and trucks in America last year. To our knowledge, no one is asking for this protection. This path leads inevitably to fewer choices and higher prices for cars and trucks in America.”