Alexander and Corker criticize Trump move to put tariffs on vehicle part imports for national security (UPDATED)

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, are both criticizing a proposal by President Trump that could lead to heavy new tariffs on imported vehicle parts.

Press release from Sen. Bob Corker’s office

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement after the Trump administration announced it was initiating an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to “determine whether imports of automobiles, including SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts into the United States threaten to impair the national security as defined in Section 232.”

“I am very concerned about the president abusing the authorities granted to him in Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962,” said Corker. “There is no reason to use this provision to consider imposing tariffs on the automobile industry, and this appears to be either an attempt to affect domestic politics ahead of the election or for some other transactional purpose regarding ongoing trade discussions. This is a dangerous course and should be abandoned immediately.”

Press release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2018 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement after the Administration announced it is launching a preliminary investigation into imports of automobiles and automotive parts into the United States:

“Forty years ago, I helped convince Nissan to build here what they sell here—they built a plant in Smyrna, others followed, and today one-third of Tennessee’s manufacturing jobs are auto related, 967 foreign based businesses employ more than 140,000 Tennesseans, and we have more than 900 automotive suppliers in 88 of our 95 counties. Tariffs on the imports of cars and auto parts will not put our workers first. By making it more expensive to build and sell cars here, they will destroy the thriving automotive industry that has been built by thousands of skilled Tennessee workers.”

From a New York Times article on Trump’s move:

President Trump has asked for a sweeping trade investigation into whether autos imported into the United States pose a threat to national security, a move that could ultimately result in tariffs on foreign-made cars and further strain relations with global allies.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, the Commerce Department said it had begun an investigation “following a conversation” with Mr. Trump. The announcement followed a statement from the president, in which he said he had instructed the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, to investigate imports of cars, trucks and auto parts “to determine their effects on America’s national security.”

“Core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a nation,” Mr. Trump said.

In a separate announcement, the Commerce Department said that imports of passenger vehicles had grown from under a third of cars sold in the United States 20 years ago to nearly half today, while employment in the sector had declined. Automobile manufacturing has long been a source of technological innovation in the United States, and the investigation would consider whether the decline of the auto industry threatens to weaken the American economy by reducing research and development in cutting-edge technologies, the statement said.

“There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry,” Mr. Ross said.

The investigation, which will take months, will be carried out under the same legal statute that the administration used to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The statute gives the president broad authority to restrict imports that threaten national security.


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