Date
19 October 2018
A file photo shows Volkswagen export cars lined up at a port in Germany, The EU and other major global auto producers are said to be mulling potential coordinated response to US tariff threats. Photo: Reuters
A file photo shows Volkswagen export cars lined up at a port in Germany, The EU and other major global auto producers are said to be mulling potential coordinated response to US tariff threats. Photo: Reuters

Auto powers set to discuss response to Trump tariff threat

Officials from Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico and South Korea will meet this week to discuss their response to US threats to impose tariffs on autos and car parts, Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

Deputy ministers will gather in Geneva on Tuesday to hear each other’s views, according to the report.

“The meeting is meant to bring together major auto producing nations so we can discuss our concerns over the US Department of Commerce’s Section 232 investigation of automobiles and parts,” a Canadian government source was quoted as saying.

Mexico’s economy ministry confirmed Deputy Economy Minister Juan Carlos Baker will travel to Geneva for “work meetings about several subjects,” including meeting World Trade Organization (WTO) chief Roberto Azevedo, the report said.

It was not immediately clear what kind of response the countries could be looking at, although Canada, the EU and Mexico retaliated with their own tariffs after Trump imposed levies on steel and aluminum imports in March, Reuters said.

Another option is to fight the United States at the WTO.

The Trump administration has come under heavy criticism from automakers, foreign governments and others as it considers tariffs of up to 25 percent, a levy critics warn will hike vehicle costs, hurting auto sales and global industry jobs.

Several auto manufacturing powers have been talking to each other in recent days about their fears and a possible coordinated response to Trump’s “Section 232” investigation, which he ordered on May 23, into whether auto imports are a threat to US security, according to Reuters sources.

Eventual tariffs on autos could hit companies including Korea’s Hyundai Motor, Japan’s Toyota Motor and Germany’s BMW, as well as global factories for US brands General Motors, Ford Motor, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Trump’s agreement on Wednesday to refrain from imposing car tariffs on the EU in return for reduced trade barriers for US products has helped cool fears of a trade war, but his final decision will not be known until the security investigation is concluded in coming months, the report noted. 

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