Auto industry officials are cautiously breathing a sigh of relief after hearing word from Washington that the Trump administration may delay, possibly even scrub, a move that could impose new tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported vehicles and car parts.
President Donald Trump met with his trade advisers on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the status of a Commerce Department investigation into trade practices that began last May. It could result in sanctions under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act if it's determined that auto imports pose a threat to national security. But critics, including virtually the entire auto industry, as well as several foreign leaders, have warned that such a move could touch off a much wider trade war.
The auto industry also fears that new tariffs, on top of those already enacted on Chinese-made vehicles and imported aluminum and steel, could have a major negative impact on the American new car market. Consumers could be hit with higher prices that would put the brakes on already declining car sales, hammering industry profits.