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Trump says finishing U.S. study on tariffs on cars from EU

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a rally in support of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster in West Columbia, South Carolina, U.S., June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By David Shepardson and Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the government was completing a study about increasing import tariffs on cars from the European Union and suggested he would take action soon.

"We are finishing our study of Tariffs on cars from the E.U. in that they have long taken advantage of the U.S. in the form of Trade Barriers and Tariffs. In the end it will all even out - and it won’t take very long!" Trump tweeted.

On Friday Trump threatened to impose a 20 percent tariff on all imports of EU-assembled cars, a month after his administration launched an investigation into whether auto imports posed a national security threat.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a group representing General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Volkswagen AG and other major automakers, will file written comments warning that a 25 percent on imported passenger vehicles would cost American consumers $45 billion (£34.04 billion) annually, or $5,800 per vehicle, spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist said.

"Nationwide, this tariff would hit American consumers with a tax of nearly $45 billion, based on 2017 auto sales. This would largely cancel out the benefits of the tax cuts," Bergquist said, previewing the comments. Consumers would also face higher costs of imported auto parts when buying vehicles from both U.S. and foreign automakers, she said.

The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Saturday, a senior European Commission official said the EU would respond to any U.S. move to raise tariffs on cars made in the bloc.

The U.S. Commerce Department has a deadline of February 2019 to investigate whether imports of automobiles and auto parts pose a risk to U.S. national security.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last Thursday the department aimed to wrap up the probe by late July or August.

Trump has repeatedly singled out German auto imports to the United States for criticism.

Trump told carmakers at a meeting in the White House on May 11 that he was planning to impose tariffs of 20 percent or 25 percent on some imported vehicles and sharply criticized Germany's automotive trade surplus with the United States.

On Monday in South Carolina, Trump criticized German automakers including BMW for auto imports -- even though BMW employs 9,000 workers at an assembly plant in South Carolina. "We will straighten it out," he said of the imbalance in automotive trade. "It will all work out."

The United States currently imposes a 2.5 percent tariff on imported passenger cars from the EU and a 25 percent tariff on imported pickup trucks. The EU imposes a 10 percent tariff on imported U.S. cars.


(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Eric Walsh; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Chizu Nomiyama)