EU warns of hit to US over car import tariffs

EU warns of hit to US over car import tariffs

Washington’s threat to hit car imports with punitive tariffs risks sparking global retaliation against as much as $300 billion of US products, according to the European Commission's written submission to the US Department of Commerce seen by the Financial Times.

The warning is the first time that Brussels has set out a detailed response to Washington’s threat to slam punitive tariffs on imported vehicles, with EU capitals increasingly convinced that the unpredictable US president will act soon, the newspaper wrote.

US President Donald Trump said yesterday that the EU was “as bad” as China when it came to the way European countries traded with the US. In an interview with Fox News he dismissed suggestions that his attacks on the EU were counterproductive and that he should instead strengthen relations with European countries to tackle the Chinese trade issue together.

"The European Union is possibly as bad as China, just smaller . . . It is terrible what they do to us," Trump said, citing "the car situation."

Brussels said that an American investigation into whether foreign cars and parts posed a national security risk could plunge the global economy into a full-on trade war, harming employment in the US’s auto sector, which accounts for more than 4 million jobs.

This week global automakers warned that imposing the tariffs on car imports would raise prices of imported vehicles by up to $6,000 per car and lift prices of locally made cars.

General Motors was on Friday the latest carmaker to warn against Trump’s threatened car tariffs, saying it would raise the prices of its vehicles by thousands of dollars, undermine its competitiveness and lead to US job losses.

BMW, the German carmaker that exports 70% of vehicles from its largest plant in South Carolina, also warned that it could cut investment and jobs if the tariffs are imposed.

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