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Trump Administration Delays Decision on Car Tariffs

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05/15/2019 | 11:51am EDT

By Vivian Salama and William Mauldin

The Trump administration has put off a final decision on whether to impose broad tariffs on automobile and auto-part imports for about six months, two administration officials said Wednesday.

President Trump was facing a deadline this week on whether to impose tariffs following a report from the Commerce Department about the national-security risks of automotive imports.

The major parts of the U.S. auto industry are united in opposing the tariffs, and industry officials were expecting a delay rather than a move to impose tariffs.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly warned he could impose tariffs on cars produced by major trading partners including the European Union and Japan, and the administration has sought to use the pressure from that threat to negotiate bilateral trade agreements.

Talks with Japan and the EU are in the early stages, however, and trade experts say the administration needs more time to seek agreements before resorting to tariffs, which could chill efforts to strike a deal.

Mr. Trump faces broad opposition from the industry and lawmakers on the tariffs, as well as legal challenges to his use of the national-security law known as Section 232. The law allows for an additional 180 days for negotiations with trading partners, following a 90-day decision window for the president that closes this week.

"We are grateful for the additional time and for additional consideration," said Ann Wilson, senior vice president at the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association. She added that suppliers "fundamentally disagree" with the notion that imported components are a national-security risk.

The Trump administration is likely to formalize the delay in the coming days. It wasn't immediately known if the upcoming statement would detail possible tariffs or quotas or the trading partners that could be hit by the penalties.

Last year, Mr. Trump used Section 232 to impose broad steel and aluminum tariffs on countries ranging from geopolitical rivals such as China and Russia to neighbors Canada and Mexico.

The delay in a tariff decision was reported earlier Wednesday by Bloomberg News.

Write to Vivian Salama at vivian.salama@wsj.com and William Mauldin at william.mauldin@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
LME ALUMINIUM CASH -0.69% 1739 End-of-day quote.-6.40%
US DOLLAR / RUSSIAN ROUBLE (USD/RUB) 0.76% 65.994 Delayed Quote.-5.35%
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