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General Motors says Trump’s tariffs could threaten US jobs and ‘undermine competitiveness’

Car manufacturer, which employs 110,000 people in US, follows other multinational companies in criticising president’s new tariffs policy

David J. Lynch
Saturday 30 June 2018 18:54 BST
General Motors said President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs would affect US jobs and growth
General Motors said President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs would affect US jobs and growth (Getty)

General Motors has attacked President Donald Trump's proposed tariffs on foreign vehicles, saying they risked weakening the company's global competitiveness and would lead to job cuts at home and abroad.

In comments filed with the Commerce Department, which is evaluating whether vehicle imports threaten US national security as the president has suggested, GM said the new tariffs would hurt the economy.

President Trump's proposal “risks undermining GM's competitiveness against foreign auto producers by erecting broad brush trade barriers that increase our global costs” and could invite retaliation by US trading partners, the car manufacturer said.

The company's blunt statement underscores the increasing frustration among American multinational corporations, which fear the president's “America First” trade policy ignores the realities of a global economy.

“The overboard and steep application of import tariffs on our trading partners risks isolating US businesses like GM from the global market that helps to preserve and grow our strength here at home,” the company said.

Consumers “at some point” will feel the impact of Mr Trump's tariffs in higher prices for passenger cars and vehicle parts. The per-vehicle increase of several thousand dollars will hit “customers who can least afford” the higher costs, the company warned.

If the company instead absorbed the tariff, it would reduce hiring, investment and wages, according to the filing. GM has 47 manufacturing sites and 25 service-part facilities in the US, where it employs around 110,000 people. Since the 2009 depths of the Great Recession, the company has invested more than $22bn (£16.7bn) since 2009 in its American factories, it said.

Instead of additional tariffs, the administration should concentrate on reaching agreement with Mexico and Canada on a modernized North American trade deal, GM said. Those negotiations, which began in August, have stalled.

GM said President Trump's earlier decisions to levy import taxes on steel, aluminium and billions of dollars in Chinese goods also was damaging its prospects. The president's interest in taxing foreign cars, perhaps as a tool to encourage the European Union or Japan to open their markets further to American exports, sparked quick opposition from prominent Republicans.

Senator Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called Mr Trump's push for auto tariffs “deeply misguided.”

The president, however, has repeatedly complained about the EU's 10 per cent tariff on American cars. The US currently imposes a 2.5 per cent tax on cars imported from Europe and elsewhere.

“They send Mercedes, they send BMWs, they send everything; we tax them practically nothing,” President Trump said this week at a rally in South Carolina.

The Commerce Department already has received more than 2,100 comments from businesses, trade groups and individuals in response to the tariffs. Two days of public hearings are scheduled on 19 and 20 July and the president could go ahead with his additional tariffs shortly after.

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, representing 1,000 vehicle parts makers, told the Commerce Department it “strongly opposes” Mr Trump's tariffs. “Counterproductive unilateral actions will place manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage to their global counterparts, erode US jobs and growth, and will not protect the national security of the United States,” the industry group said.

The Washington Post

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