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China, Japan Object to Trump Move on Auto Tariff


FILE - Japanese imported autos lined up at a Los Angeles Port terminal in Los Angeles, Jan. 16, 2013. President Donald Trump says he is considering a steep tariff on imported autos, most of which come from U.S. allies.

China and Japan are criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to launch an investigation into the effect of vehicle imports on national security.

Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters Thursday that abusing national security clauses undermines the multilateral trade system and disrupts normal international trade.

Japan’s trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, said if the U.S. probe results in new tariffs that would bring turmoil to the global market.

Trump has already cited national security in levying tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

“I instructed Secretary Ross to consider initiating a Section 232 investigation into imports of automobiles, including trucks, and automotive parts to determine their effects on America’s national security,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday after meeting with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Trump is seeking to levy tariffs as much as 25 percent on automobile imports. Trump, who has pledged to revive American manufacturing, has launched a series of trade actions, demanding China import more American goods, starting talks to renegotiate NAFTA and imposing the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Trump hinted at the action earlier Wednesday, tweeting: “There will be big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!”

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources in the auto industry, said the plan to retaliate likely would face significant opposition from trading partners and auto dealers that sell imports.

It also is unlikely to pass muster with the World Trade Organization.

The top five auto importers are key U.S. allies: Mexico, Canada, the European Union, Japan and South Korea.