January 21, 2019

U.S. Senators Push Back On Auto Tariffs As Talks With EU Heat Up

As Connecting the Dots reported last week, the United States and the European Union are moving forward with trade negotiations. Tariffs on automobiles are a key concern for both sides.

While President Donald Trump has threatened to put new auto penalties in place, Capitol Hill is pushing back on that rhetoric. Last week, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill called the Automotive Jobs Act that would require the International Trade Commission (ITC), which is part of the U.S. Commerce Department, to conduct a comprehensive study on “the well-being, health and vitality of the United States automotive industry before tariffs could be applied.” The bill requires the ITC to assess several issues, including:

  • The number of automobiles assembled in the United States that are exported each year and to which countries;
  • The percentage of component parts of automobiles assembled in the United States that are imported;
  • The number of component parts for automobiles that are not produced in the United States and would thus not be available to United States automotive producers if prohibitively high duties were imposed on imports of those parts; and
  • The effect an increase in automotive manufacturing costs would have on jobs in the United States.

The European Commission also weighed in on auto tariffs last week, adopting a policy that called for eliminating tariffs on all industrial goods, including automobiles, from the United States.

In related news: EU countries have approved a measure that extends through 2021 policies to reduce steel imports. Click here to read an earlier Connecting the Dots story on this issue.