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Ross says tariffs play a useful role in trade

Ross says tariffs play a useful role in trade

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE’s nominee to lead the Commerce Department said Wednesday that tariffs can play a role in negotiating trade agreements and punishing bad behavior.

But Secretary-designee Wilbur Ross didn’t say whether he agreed with President-elect Donald Trump's promise to slap a 35 percent tariff on any foreign-made cars that are imported into the United States, a vow that is raising tensions with among trade allies. 

“I think that it’s a complicated issue whether you should have one flat tariff on everything or whether it should be more tailored toward the individual situations,” Ross told the Senate Commerce Committee at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

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“I think tariffs play a role both as a negotiating tool and, if necessary, to punish offenders who don’t play by the rules.”

On Monday, Trump warned German car companies he would impose a 35 percent border tax on vehicles coming into the U.S. market, which drew a backlash from Berlin.

Trump criticized German carmakers such as BMW and Volkswagen for failing to produce more cars in the United States, according to an interview with German newspaper Bild, which came out on Monday.

Last fall, Trump said he would impose a 35 percent tariff on U.S. companies that have moved overseas and ship their products back into country. 

Tariffs are a looming problem for the incoming Trump administration, which has vowed to apply the tax on countries like Mexico and China for trade infractions and U.S. companies that move their operations abroad.

Trade experts argue that the tariff plan could start a trade war and hurt the U.S. economy and consumers by making products more expensive. 

But while tariffs are one way to get a point across, Ross said that the United States must lower its corporate tax rate to attract foreign companies here. 

Eliminating regulators and expanding the nation's energy production could boost economic growth in the coming years, too, he said. 

Amid Trump's concern over trade deficits, Ross said the No. 1 priority to fix trade imbalances is to increase U.S. exports.