Foreign automakers haven’t posed much of a threat to the United States since World War Two but that hasn’t stopped President Trump from pushing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate whether or not automotive imports are a threat to America.
In a short statement released by the White House, President Trump said “I instructed Secretary Ross to consider initiating a Section 232 investigation into imports of automobiles, including trucks, and automotive parts to determine their effects on America’s national security.” Trump went on to say “Core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a Nation.”
Following the conversation with Trump, Ross ordered the Department of Commerce to investigate the matter. Ross also released a statement saying “There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry.” He went on to say “The Department of Commerce will conduct a thorough, fair, and transparent investigation into whether such imports are weakening our internal economy and may impair the national security.”
Investigation will focus on job losses and effects on research and development
According to the Department of Commerce, the number of passenger vehicle imports has grown from 32 percent of cars sold in the United States to 48 percent in the past 20 years. The Department also noted the number of automotive production jobs has declined by 22 percent, since 1990, “even though Americans are continuing to purchase automobiles at record levels.”
The investigation will focus on numerous areas including whether or not the decline of domestic automobile and automotive parts production has resulted in negative impacts on research and development. This will focus on areas such as autonomous vehicles, fuel cells and electric motors – among other things.
There will be big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
The news follows a tweet from President Trump where he said “There will be big news coming soon for our great American autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!” This seems to suggest the President has already made up his mind and will attempt to go after foreign automakers by using a national security defense.
The news has already rattled a number of automakers and allies as the Wall Street Journal is reporting imported vehicles could be slapped with up to a 25% tariff. This would significantly impact a number of companies and the president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, Cody Lusk, said “To treat auto imports like a national security threat would be a self-inflicted economic disaster for American consumers, dealers, and dealership employees.”