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President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE's push to impose tariffs on imported foreign cars is expected to be delayed past this month, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHouse panel, Commerce Department reach agreement on census documents China sanctions Wilbur Ross, others after US warns of doing business in Hong Kong DOJ won't prosecute Wilbur Ross after watchdog found he gave false testimony MORE said in an interview published Tuesday.
Despite previously predicting that his department would likely issue a report making way for the tariffs in August, Ross told The Wall Street Journal that it was “not clear the report will be out at the end of the month,” citing ongoing trade negotiations.
Ross said the delay was due to tough negotiations the Trump administration is involved in with Canada and Mexico over the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and with the European Commission on ramping down a trade dispute on steel and aluminum.
The administration has argued that auto imports pose a risk to national security. Section 232 of the trade law gives administrations broad authority to impose tariffs on imported items that the Commerce Department deems are a threat to national security, and Ross is legally obligated to issue the report on imported cars by mid-February under a request Trump submitted in May.
Trump imposed steep tariffs on imported aluminum and steel under the same national security rationale earlier in the year, but recently doubled tariffs on Turkey amid an ongoing dispute over an American pastor imprisoned there. Trump also waived tariffs for countries such as South Korea after it agreed to tweak portions of its trade deal with the U.S.
The threat of auto tariffs could play a significant role in Trump’s attempt to renegotiate NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, where the supply chains and markets for auto industries are heavily intertwined with the U.S.
Trump also promised to avoid imposing new trade restrictions on Europe as the two sides negotiate a new trade arrangement.
On Monday, American automakers announced a broad coalition to oppose auto tariffs, saying that the new import taxes could raise the costs of American cars by as much as $6,900.