Automakers Have a Tough Message for Trump


As countries across the world continue to play a nasty game of tariff tug-of-war, industries in nearly every sector are crying for mercy.

We reported last week that not everyone suffering, as steel industry in the U.S. is now booming. But what about the companies that use steel in their products? Mid-Continent Nail in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, decided to lay off 60 workers to help fight back against sluggish sales directly linked to Trump’s tariff that put a 25% tax on imported steel.

The company says orders for nails dropped and astounding 50%. Mid-Continent Nail is now pleading with the Commerce Department for an exclusion on paying tariffs if they hope to stay operational by Labor Day. They feel their only options at this point is to get an exemption, move operations to Mexico to stay afloat, or shut down altogether.

Now that President Trump is looking to retaliate against China’s retaliation of the first tariff, he’s eyeballing foreign-made cars as the next plan of attack.  The problem is, automakers in the U.S. are trying to convince Trump that such a move would be horrible for the already fragile auto industry here in the States.

A 25% tariff on imported cars would be equal to taxing them $45 billion, increasing the cost of a new car by nearly $6,000. This higher cost would undoubtedly lead to job cuts and even plant closures.

“Tariffs will lead to increased producer costs, increased producer costs will lead to increased vehicle costs, increased vehicle costs will lead to fewer sales and less tax receipts, fewer sales will lead to fewer jobs, and those fewer jobs will significantly impact many communities and families across the country,” said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in a letter.

Right now, Trump is waiting on word from the Commerce Department to determine if foreign cars can be considered a national security threat, giving him the justification he needs to slap a hefty tariff on imports.

President Trump has also threatened to do the same to the EU if they retaliated against U.S. tariffs.

Trump said in a tweet: “Based on the Tariffs and Trade Barriers long placed on the U.S. and it great companies and workers by the European Union, if these Tariffs and Barriers are not soon broken down and removed, we will be placing a 20 percent tariff on all of their cars coming into the U.S. Build them here!”

Of course, it wouldn’t be easy for any company or industry to just pull up stakes and move to the U.S., especially when the labor costs are much more expensive to run a plant here. Rather, the automakers are hoping they can convince the president NOT to start a trade war over cars.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics released a report revealing that such tariffs would go deeper than a few jobs lost. We would be looking at a 1.5% decline in overall production over a 3-year period, which could cost nearly 200,000 jobs.

That’s only if Europe and China don’t retaliate with tariffs of their own. If that happens, the job losses could soar to nearly 625,000 in a scenario that would completely devastate the auto industry.

All we can do now is wait on the Commerce Department’s findings on the issue. It’s difficult to understand how foreign cars could be considered a national security risk, but that didn’t stop them from coming to that same conclusion with foreign steel

We will continue to cover this story as it develops.


Last modified: June 28, 2018