Slapping stiff import duties on imported cars and light trucks would almost certainly set off a trade war handicapping U.S. automakers. Yet President Donald Trump reportedly is considering such action — in the name of national security.
Perhaps the president thinks tariffs would help American vehicle manufacturers avoid closing more plants. General Motors has plans to close five major facilities in this country and Canada, and to lay off 15 percent of the firm’s salaried employees.
A relatively little-used law allows presidents to use tariffs to stave off threats to national security. At Trump’s request, the Commerce Department has prepared a report on whether auto imports pose such a threat. Neither the agency nor the White House has commented on the report’s contents.