(WASHINGTON) — Bogged down in a sprawling trade dispute with U.S. rival China
, President Donald Trump took steps Friday to ease tensions with America’s al
lies — lifting import taxes on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum and de
laying auto tariffs that would have hurt Japan and Europe.
By removing the metals tariffs on Canada and Mexico, Trump cleared a key roadb
lock to a North American trade pact his team negotiated last year. As part of
Friday’s arrangement, the Canadians and Mexicans agreed to scrap retaliatory
tariffs they had imposed on U.S. goods.
“I’m pleased to announce that we’ve just reached an agreement with Canada a
nd Mexico, and we’ll be selling our product into those countries without the
imposition of tariffs, or major tariffs,” Trump said in a speech to the Natio
nal Association of Realtors.
In a joint statement, the U.S. and Canada said they would work to prevent chea
p imports of steel and aluminum from entering North America. The provision app
eared to target China, which has long been accused of flooding world markets w
ith subsidized metal, driving down world prices and hurting U.S. producers. Th
e countries could also reimpose the tariffs if they faced a “surge” in steel
or aluminum imports.
Earlier Friday, the White House said Trump is delaying for six months any deci
sion to slap tariffs on foreign cars, a move that would have hit Japan and the
Europe especially hard.
Trump still is hoping to use the threat of auto tariffs to pressure Japan and
the European Union into making concessions in ongoing trade talks. “If agreem
ents are not reached within 180 days, the president will determine whether and
what further action needs to be taken,” White House press secretary Sarah Sa
nders said in a statement.
In imposing the metals tariffs and threatening the ones on autos, the presiden
t was relying on a rarely used weapon in the U.S. trade war arsenal — Section
232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 — which lets the president impose tar
iffs on imports if the Commerce Department deems them a threat to national sec
But the steel and aluminum tariffs were also designed to coerce Canada and Mex
ico into agreeing to a rewrite of North American free trade pact. In fact, the
Canadians and Mexicans did go along last year with a revamped regional trade
deal that was to Trump’s liking. But the administration had refused to lift t
he taxes on their metals to the United States until Friday.
The new trade deal — the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — needs approval the l
egislatures in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Several key U.S. lawmakers were th
reatening to reject the pact unless the tariffs were removed. And Canada had s
uggested it wouldn’t ratify any deal with tariffs still in place.
Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the lifting of
the tariffs “will bring immediate relief to American farmers and manufacture
rs. Critically, this action delivers a welcome burst of momentum for the USMCA
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau credited his government for holding out
to get the tariffs removed.
“We stayed strong,” he said. “That’s what workers asked for. These tariffs
didn’t make sense around national security. They were hurting Canadian consu
mers, Canadian workers and American consumers and American workers.”
Trump had faced a Saturday deadline to decide what to do about the auto tariff
Taxing auto tariffs would mark a major escalation in Trump’s aggressive trade
policies and likely would meet resistance in Congress. The United States last
year imported $192 billion worth of passenger vehicles and $159 billion in au
“I have serious questions about the legitimacy of using national security as
a basis to impose tariffs on cars and car parts,” Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck
Grassley, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Friday. H
e’s working on legislation to scale back the president’s authority to impose
national security tariffs under Section 232.
In a statement, the White House said that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has d
etermined that imported vehicles and parts are a threat to national security.
Trump deferred action on tariffs for 180 days to give negotiators time to work
out deals but threatened them if talks break down.
In justifying tariffs for national security reasons, Commerce found that the U
.S. industrial base depends on technology developed by American-owned auto com
panies to maintain U.S. military superiority. Because of rising imports of aut
os and parts over the past 30 years, the market share of U.S.-owned automakers
has fallen. That has caused a lag in research and development spending which
is “weakening innovation and, accordingly, threatening to impair our national
security,” the statement said.
The market share of vehicles produced and sold in the U.S. by American-owned a
utomakers, the statement said, has declined from 67 percent in 1985 to 22 perc
ent in 2017.
But the statistics don’t match market share figures from the industry. A mess
age was left Friday seeking an explanation of how Commerce calculated the 22 p
In 2017, General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Tesla combined had a 44.5 per
cent share of U.S. auto sales, according to Autodata Corp. Those figures inclu
de vehicles produced in other countries.
It’s possible that the Commerce Department didn’t include Fiat Chrysler, whi
ch is now legally headquartered in The Netherlands but has a huge research and
development operation near Detroit. It had 12 percent of U.S. auto sales in 2
The Commerce figures also do not account for research by foreign automakers. T
oyota, Hyundai-Kia, Subaru, Honda and others have significant research centers
in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Trump is locked in a high stakes rumble with China. The U.S. accuse
s Beijing of stealing trade secrets and forcing American companies to hand ove
r technology in a head-long push to challenge American technological dominance
. The two countries have slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in
each other’s products. Talks broke off last week with no resolution.
The hostilities between the world’s two biggest economies have weighed heavil
y the past couple of weeks on the U.S. stock market, threatening a long rally
that Trump touted as a vindication of his economic policies. Opening a new fro
nt in the trade wars against EU and Japan likely would have worried investors
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※ 編輯: tigertiger (184.108.40.206), 05/18/2019 13:46:23
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