Mazda Condemns Trump’s Proposed 25 Percent Import Car Tariff

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Mr. Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on imported cars and parts, which could raise auto prices in the roughly 10 percent, according to economists and industry analysts.

In commenting on the Commerce Department's Section 232 national security investigation of motor vehicles and parts, Toyota Motor North America stressed that it was commenting not on behalf of its Japanese parent, but on behalf of its 37,000 US employees, and the 367,000 workers employed at its suppliers and dealerships in the U.S.

General Motors Co. delivered a harsh warning to the Trump administration, saying that a 25 percent tariff would likely lead them to reduce USA operations and cut jobs.

Toyota also submitted comments to the Commerce Department on Friday, saying import tariffs would "disrupt" USA -based production by depriving plants for key parts.

"And here's a real kicker for those who haven't figured out Trump's game plan yet - Some White House aides have said the only reason Trump is pursuing the national security" issue on tariffs is to get Canada and Mexico to agree to his concessions on the North American Free Trade Agreement, reports Reuters.

The Commerce Department is now investigating whether imported cars represent a national security threat.

GM, which makes some vehicles for the USA market in Mexico and Canada, said the tariffs could hike vehicle prices and reduce sales. The president cited similar security concerns to justify imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

"Alternatively, if prices are not increased and we opt to bear the burden of tariffs or plant moves, this could lead to less investment, fewer jobs, and lower wages for our employees", the automaker warned.

The Munich-based luxury automaker said its investment of nearly US$9 billion (S$12 billion) in the Spartanburg, South Carolina, BMW plant, supports more than 120,000 U.S. jobs.

Toyota said that worldwide automakers assembling vehicles in the USA are based in countries, including Japan, German and South Korea, "that are America's closest allies".

The largest US automaker added that tariffs risk leading to fewer American jobs, not more, and lower wages.

"We urge the work with its trading partners to support policies that remove rather than create new barriers to trade", the company said.

GM's Chevrolet Silverado pickup was the top-selling model imported from Mexico previous year, while the Chevrolet Equinox crossover was the leading vehicle sourced from Canada, according to LMC Automotive.

Studies estimate that tariffs could increase the price of an imported $30,000 auto by about $6,400 and cause up to 195,000 USA workers to lose their jobs, JAMA said.

Both GM and Toyota warned that USA consumers would bear the brunt of increased costs.

So with midnight tonight being the deadline for comments, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement, "We have received approximately 2,500 comments already" adding they expect more. Hearings are now scheduled for July on the issue, with June 29 being the last day to file comments on the proposed tariff.

U.S. auto production has doubled over the past decade, and the sector employs almost 8 million Americans - almost 50 percent more than it employed in 2011, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.