- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2019

President Trump announced Friday that he’s delaying a decision for up to six months on whether to impose tariffs on imported cars and auto parts from Europe and elsewhere, based on his administration’s findings that the imports pose a national security threat.

Mr. Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to negotiate with Europe, Japan and other nations “to address the national security threat, which is causing harm to the American automobile industry.”

If the U.S. is unable to reach deals within 180 days, the White House said, Mr. Trump will decide what other steps to take.

The decision comes as the U.S. is embroiled in a tariff war with China that escalated last week when long-running trade negotiations hit a major roadblock.

The administration responded by raising tariffs on a broad range of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%, a move that delivered a shock to global financial markets.

The Commerce Department issued a report in February determining that the level of imported automobiles and car parts poses a national security threat. The president has been threatening the European Union with tariffs on autos and other goods if more favorable trade deals can’t be reached.

“United States defense and military superiority depend on the competitiveness of our automobile industry and the research and development that industry generates,” the White House said in a statement.

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