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President Trump on auto tariffs: 'We’ll do the tariffs' if no trade deal with EU

Jessica Smith

In the oval office on Wednesday, President Trump threatened tariffs on auto imports, if the United States cannot agree to a trade deal with the European Union.

“It’s something we think about and we’re negotiating with [the EU]. If we don’t make the deal, we’ll do the tariffs,” the President said.

On Sunday, the Commerce Department submitted a report to the White House, detailing its findings on whether auto imports pose a threat to national security. The report has not yet been made public. When asked about the report on Wednesday, the President did not give any details about its findings.

“We’ve studied it very carefully. We’ve seen the results, but the bottom line result is whether or not we can make a deal with the EU that’s fair,” said Trump.

The President has 90 days after receiving the report to made a decision on tariffs.

“We’re trying to make a deal. They’re very tough to make a deal with, the EU. They’ve been very difficult,” said Trump.

Democratic Senator and Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, Ron Wyden has called on the White House to release the Commerce Department report.

“American families, small businesses, farmers and ranchers have a right to know what Donald Trump is considering when it comes to slapping tariffs on cars and trucks and even on parts used to assemble autos in the U.S. To me, the notion that importing autos and parts is a threat to our country’s national security is a tough sell,” said Wyden in a statement.

President Donald Trump listens during his meeting with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Lawmakers in the President’s own party have warned him not to put tariffs on auto imports.

“Misusing the Section 232 trade tool hurts #Ohio workers & consumers. I hope the admin moves away from imposing auto tariffs,” said Republican Senator Rob Portman in a tweet.

Portman also urged lawmakers to pass his Trade Security Act, which would reform the 232 tariff process.

On the Senate floor last week, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said auto tariffs would be damaging to the economy.

“Raising tariffs on cars and parts would be a huge tax on consumers who buy or service their cars, whether those cars are imported or domestically produced. And make no mistake — Americans will be paying those taxes,” Grassley said.

A BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report released on Wednesday said the administration is most likely to threaten tariffs without actually enacting them.

The report also said that in a worst case scenario, “full-blown tit-for-tat auto tariffs could trigger a global recession.”

Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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