Momentum Slips for Auto Import Tariffs



William Mauldin | Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—President Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on car imports is facing increasing headwinds amid congressional opposition, legal challenges and the prospect of consumer opposition.

Three weeks after the Commerce Department submitted a report on possible auto tariffs, the administration has yet to address the issue publicly—an uncharacteristically quiet approach that has trade experts concluding the White House isn’t eager to launch another grueling trade battle that could rattle markets as the 2020 election campaign gets under way.

When he first proposed tariffs last year, Mr. Trump warned that cars imported from abroad would be slapped with tariffs of up to 25%. U.S.-made cars would also become more expensive, auto makers say, in part because tariffs would also be levied on imported components that typically make up 40% to 50% of domestic vehicles.

“The price of vehicles would go up for middle-income American families who drive,” said Rep. Jackie Walorski (R., Ind.), who has co-sponsored new legislation that would give Congress the ability to veto such tariffs. She said she is also concerned that auto parts and recreational vehicle manufacturers in her district would face retaliation from abroad.

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