Although the reasons why the U.S. Administration is pushing for higher import duties on steel and aluminum may be justified, it will have to time the imposition of tariffs since trade wars and higher import tariffs don’t gel well in a flattening auto market
Business groups, automakers and even farmers have taken their fight against the U.S. Administration’s proposed imposition of stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum to Capitol Hill betting that Republican lawmakers would come to their side and stand up against the White House.
The development underscores a growing recognition among lobbyists for industries that they could be significantly hurt in a trade war; they have thus wagered that Republican lawmakers would continue to side for open trade and use their legislative powers to derail these tariffs.
Lobbyists are hoping that Congress could attach language to the spending bill, due later this month, which could restrict the ability of the administration to impose tariffs; already quite a few Republicans have called for hearings or have urged the Trump Administration to limit the extent of the tariffs.
The Trump administration has however said they are determined to go ahead with protective tariffs for steel and aluminum, despite their potential for retaliation by trading partners.
“We have and will continue to do all we can to make these facts known to policymakers in the administration, on Capitol Hill, and in statehouses around the country,” said John Bozzella, president and CEO of Global Automakers, a trade group representing Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co and other automakers.
Further industries which extensively use metal, including car and airplane makers, are already facing price rises for steel and aluminum partly due to lower availability due to lower production capacity.
Groups representing auto dealers have also weighed in and have supported manufacturers.
According to Cody Lusk, CEO and president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, headlines of trade wars and higher import tariffs don’t gell well in a flattening auto market; it could cause Americans to put off buying new vehicles.
“Everybody is reaching out to their allies on Capitol Hill just to make sure they are aware of what’s at stake,” said Lusk.