Business

U.S. set to delay new auto tariffs by up to six months, industry sources say

AFP-JIJI

The Trump administration plans to delay a decision about additional tariffs on imported cars, according to two industry sources.

The delay could last up to six months, the sources said, with the announcement expected as soon as Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump “doesn’t have to make this decision tomorrow,” one of the sources said.

The Trump administration has been threatening since last year to impose tariffs of perhaps 25 percent on auto imports to defend the U.S. auto sector, a symbol of American manufacturing.

Trump already postponed the tariff decision — the threat of which has caused uncertainty in the European car industry, especially in Germany — for 180 days in May.

In September, the administration reached an agreement with Japan to keep tariffs on hold while talks continued.

Washington and Seoul reached an agreement last year in which South Korea promised to further open its market to U.S. automakers.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the official who had raised national security concerns as a reason for imposing new tariffs in the first place, said after “very good conversations” with automakers in the EU, Japan and elsewhere this month that additional import fees might not be necessary.

“Our hope is that the negotiations we’ve been having with individual companies about their capital investment plans will bear enough fruit that it may not be necessary” to launch a so-called Section 232 investigation, Ross told Bloomberg Television.

The industry sources also indicated Tuesday that the administration desires concessions — investments — as part of possible agreements. But companies such as Germany’s BMW could be hesitant to make such concessions, as the automaker is already expanding in the U.S. and so would be less affected by new tariffs anyway.

Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker said in an interview with German media last week that he believed the U.S. would not impose new tariffs on European cars in the coming days.

Neither the White House nor other officials from the Trump administration responded to requests for more information.