The Trump administration has announced that it will delay new tariffs on cars and auto parts for up to six months to allow more time to reach trade deals with the European Union and Japan.
In a proclamation issued Friday, President Trump reiterated that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross had found “the present quantities and circumstances of automobile and certain automobile-parts imports threaten to impair” national security. But he said he would wait 180 days before implementing the tariffs to allow the negotiation of trade deals that would render them unnecessary. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will lead those negotiations with the EU and Japan.
“United States defense and military superiority depend on the competitiveness of our automobile industry and the research and development that industry generates,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement. “If agreements are not reached within 180 days, the President will determine whether and what further action needs to be taken.”
The auto industry has positioned itself squarely against the tariffs, saying they will hurt U.S. car companies and American consumers.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom on Friday pushed back on the Commerce Department’s claim that the tariffs would be justified on national-security grounds, saying “we completely reject the notion that our car exports are a national-security threat.”
“The EU is prepared to negotiate a limited trade agreement incl. cars, but not WTO-illegal managed trade,” she wrote in a tweet.
The EU plans to retaliate with tariffs on U.S. goods if no deal is reached and the Trump administration follows through on its threat.