DETROIT (AP) – By Sunday, President Donald Trump’s Commerce Department is expected to issue its opinion on whether auto imports endanger U.S. national security enough to justify imposing tariffs of 20 to 25 percent on imported autos and auto parts.
The department could decide to postpone its conclusion. Or it could just hand its recommendations to Trump without making them public.
But if it does suggest that Trump impose the tariffs, Commerce would be advocating a major escalation in Trump’s combative trade policies. So far, he has stuck tariffs on imported steel, aluminum, dishwashers, solar panels and hundreds of Chinese goods. The tariffs have become a financial burden for U.S. companies that import goods and parts and have led some to pass on their higher costs to customers. Many economists worry about the eventual impact on the U.S. economy.
U.S. auto tariffs would almost surely lead Japan and the European Union to retaliate. They could also spark a rebellion in the U.S. Congress – including from Trump’s fellow Republicans – over concern that he is raising tariffs by invoking his authority to label certain imports a threat to America’s national security.