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Trump ‘inclined’ to impose new US auto tariffs

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U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to move ahead with tariffs on imported vehicles, a move that could prompt the European Union to agree a new trade deal, said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley on Wednesday.

“I think the president’s inclined to do it,” the Republican senator told reporters. “I think Europe (is) very very concerned about those tariffs … It may be the instrument that gets Europe to negotiate.”

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U.S. Commerce Department recommendations into whether Trump should impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and parts on national security grounds are due by mid-February. A Commerce Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Grassley, who has had regular talks with Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on trade issues, said he did not like new tariffs but “they are a fact of life when Trump is in the White House.” He said they may have been an “effective tool” in getting China, Canada, Mexico and others to negotiate on trade.

Iowa senator Grassley also wants the EU to agree to include agricultural issues in trade talks, although EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström said last week the 28-country bloc could not negotiate on agriculture.

The White House has pledged not to move forward with imposing tariffs on the European Union or Japan as long as it is making constructive progress in bilateral trade talks.

Trump has urged the EU to drop its 10 percent tariff on imported vehicles. The U.S. passenger car tariff is 2.5 percent, while it imposes 25 percent tariffs on pickup trucks.

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Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose new auto tariffs.

“Cars is the big one,” Trump said last year.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office last week published its objectives for EU talks, including seeking comprehensive agriculture access.

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The prospect of 25 percent tariffs sent shockwaves through the auto industry, with U.S. and foreign-brand producers lobbying against it.

German automakers met with Trump in December to urge him not to impose tariffs. On Monday, Volkswagen AG said it would invest $800 million in its Chattanooga, Tennessee operations and add 1,000 jobs to build electric vehicles. That drew praise from Trump.

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Automakers say imposing 25 percent tariffs would raise cumulative prices for U.S. vehicles by $83 billion annually and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. They argue there is no evidence auto imports pose a national security risk.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include General Motors Co , VW and Toyota Motor Corp, warned tariffs would boost imported car prices by nearly $6,000 on average.

Earlier this week, Senators Doug Jones and Lamar Alexander re-introduced legislation to delay any 25 percent auto tariff and require the International Trade Commission to conduct a comprehensive study before tariffs could be applied.

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Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien


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Internet disgusted after Buffalo first responders cheer cops charged with assaulting 75-year-old protester

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Commenters on Twitter expressed both contempt and disgust for Buffalo firefighters and police officers who turned out in front of Buffalo City Court to support two suspended police officers with applause and cheering.

Moments after officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault and then released without having to post bail, they were greeted as heroes outside the courthouse.

After a video was posted showing the celebration, commenters on Twitter vented at cops and firefighters for defending the two officers who assaulted the 75-year-old man who had to be rushed to a hospital after they shoved him to the ground where he sustained a head injury.

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Donald Trump’s lurch toward fascism is backfiring spectacularly

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

During the 2016 campaign, as Donald Trump railed against "Mexican rapists" and other "criminal aliens," pollsters found that the share of Americans who said that immigrants worked hard and made a positive contribution to our society increased significantly, and noticed a similar decline in the share who said they take citizens' jobs and burden our social safety net. After Trump was elected and began pursuing his Muslim ban, the share of respondents who held a positive view of Islam also increased pretty dramatically. I'm not aware of any polling of the general public about transgender troops serving in the military before Trump decided to discharge them, but Gallup found that 71 percent of respondents opposed his position after he did.

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Judge blocking release of Jeffrey Epstein records has ties to officials linked to Epstein: report

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On Saturday, the Miami Herald reported that a judge who blocked the release of grand jury material in the Jeffrey Epstein child sex abuse case has ties to three officials with a vested interest in the outcome of the lawsuits surrounding the scandal.

"Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges," wrote Julie Brown, a reporter who has extensively covered the Epstein case.

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