On Thursday, President Trump soldiered ahead to protect the United States’ steel and aluminum industries with a new 25 and 10 percent tariff on imported materials. The administration has left Mexico and Canada exempt for now, but automakers have already begun building a case for more tariff exemptions.
The main U.S. trade group that represents General Motors, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles will work to place more countries and companies on an exemption list, Automotive News reported Friday.
The new rules allow for an importer to ask the Commerce Department for a waiver if there is a limited supply of the product, or national security is at risk. Although, it seems like a difficult task to invoke the “national security” aspect.
However, President Trump said more countries could be exempt for national security reasons during a 15-day period before the tariffs go into effect.
Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, said the organization fully supports cracking down on unfair trade policies, but doubled down on calls for a more targeted approach to the tariffs. The new tariffs will hit many U.S. allies around the globe, including Japan, Germany and South Korea.
John Bozzella, president of the Association of Global Automakers, had a less positive take on the tariffs and exemptions.
“A tariff is a tax that will result in higher prices that consumers will ultimately bear. Exemptions will not address the fundamental problems tariffs will create for U.S. car and truck manufacturing. Increased costs will make our industry less competitive and harm American workers, consumers, and our economy,” he said.
GM has previously waved off the new tariffs and said its engineering department will work to minimize material cost increases. The automaker also said it already purchases 90 percent of its steel from U.S. suppliers, but did not mention aluminum.