U.S. auto industry warns Trump administration of painful tariff fallout

0

OTTAWA — The Trump administration is hearing pleas from across the American automotive sector to back away from its threats to slap punitive tariffs on U.S. imports of vehicles and parts.

Leaders representing different areas of the auto industry say the tariffs will hurt industry competitiveness, drive up consumer prices and trigger major job losses.

They are making their cases today during U.S. Commerce Department hearings into whether the duties should be apply based on the premise that imports are a national security risk.

Canadian automotive leaders have warned the U.S. tariffs would be devastating for the highly integrated North American industry and its supply chains, and would lead to large-scale layoffs on both sides of the border.

There are also deep fears U.S. levies would harm the overall Canadian and American economies because collateral damage would reach well beyond the critical, thriving auto sector.

Ann Wilson of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association says the tariffs would lead to significant job cuts within six months of their application, delay or eliminate research and development in the sector and move some operations outside the country.

Peter Welch of the National Automobile Dealers Association says there’s no basis to the argument that auto imports are a national security threat to the U.S. and he warns that the tariffs would inflate the cost of vehicles for American consumers.

President Donald Trump has proposed auto tariffs of 25 per cent on cars and parts entering the U.S. in a decision he insists would help workers. His administration has expressed concerns that, for decades, foreign imports have eaten away at the U.S. auto industry.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s investigation is considering whether to recommend to Trump that the tariffs should be applied on the basis these auto imports represent a threat to national security.

David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., is scheduled to testify at today’s hearings. Jim Wilson, the Ontario government’s minister for economic development and trade, will also testify in Washington.

The Canadian Press