Economy

Talks with EU could be an alternative to auto import tariffs, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tells FT

Key Points
  • New negotiations with the European Union could be an alternative to imposing tariffs on automotive imports next month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested.
  • President Donald Trump declared this year that some imported vehicles and parts posed a national security threat, but delayed a decision on whether to impose tariffs.
  • On Friday, the U.S. began slapping tariffs on EU imports worth an annual $7.5 billion.
U.S. President Donald Trump, center, speaks while Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, left, listens during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 25, 2018.
Kevin Dietsch | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New negotiations with the European Union could be an alternative to imposing tariffs on automotive imports next month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has suggested in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump declared this year that some imported vehicles and parts posed a national security threat, but delayed a decision until November on whether to impose tariffs, so as to allow for more time for trade talks with the European Union.

"One (option) would be to say, 'I'm just not going to do anything', the second would be to impose tariffs on some or all (countries) ... the third might be some other form of negotiation," Ross said, describing options being considered by Trump.

On Friday, the United States began slapping tariffs on EU imports worth an annual $7.5 billion, ranging from British whisky and French wine to Spanish olives and cheese from across the bloc, including Italy's Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ross dismissed criticism of the step, saying the tariffs were not imposed unilaterally and that the measure was taken with the "full support" of the World Trade Organization.

Commenting separately on trade talks with China, Ross said China was following through "in good faith" on assurances given in October to press ahead with large purchases of U.S. farm products.

As the Trump administration's general license for U.S. companies to sell to telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies expires in November, Ross told the newspaper this was not a hard deadline and could be altered.

"The deadlines are within our control, we can shorten them, we can lengthen them, we can do whatever - at this point they are being treated separately and independently from the trade talks," Ross said.

Next Article
Key Points
  • Economics and politics are well aligned to complete the “phase one” trade deal with China.
  • By contrast, a stormy trade negotiating round lies ahead with the EU, where the U.S. is hit by large and structural trade deficits, aggravated by selfish policies of trade surplus countries that are stifling economic growth in European markets taking one-fourth of American exports.
  • The U.S. should respond with blistering import tariffs on EU manufactured products rather than targeting wine and cheese that will hurt French, Italian and Spanish economies already victimized by surplus runners.