Global auto powers plotting response to Trump auto tariff threats

Assembly line for cars, factory
Cesar Manso | AFP | Getty Images

Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico and South Korea will meet in Geneva next week to discuss how to respond to threats by U.S. President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on U.S. imports of autos and car parts, officials familiar with the talks said. The Trump administration has come under heavy criticism from automakers, foreign governments and others as it considers tariffs of up to 25 percent, a levy critics warn will hike vehicle costs, hurting auto sales and global industry jobs. Several auto manufacturing powers have been talking to each other in recent days about their fears and a possible coordinated response to Trump’s “Section 232” investigation, which he ordered on May 23, into whether auto imports are a threat to U.S. security, sources say. The probe could be completed within weeks, although similar ones ordered last year that led to tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium took about 10 months. The Commerce Department has 270 days to offer recommendations to the president after such a probe starts. He then has 90 days to act upon them. It was not immediately clear what kind of response the countries could be looking at, although Canada, the EU and Mexico retaliated with their own tariffs after Trump imposed levies on steel and aluminium imports in March. Another option is to fight the United States at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Deputy ministers will gather in Geneva on July 31 to hear each other’s views, a Canadian official and a Mexican official told Reuters, asking to not be named because they were not authorized to talk to the media. “The meeting is meant to bring together major auto producing nations so we can discuss our concerns over the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Section 232 investigation of automobiles and parts,” said the Canadian government official.