Trump administration may delay auto tariff timeline

The Trump administration may delay a decision on whether to impose tariffs on auto imports, after the Commerce Department said it is held up on a report detailing whether they pose a risk to national security.

While the Commerce Department had said it would release the report this month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told The Wall Street Journal this week that it was “not clear” that the recommendations would be out in August. Ross told the Journal the delay was due in part to trade negotiations taking place with the European Union, Mexico and Canada. He also said the agency was working on reviewing a significant amount of paperwork from domestic and foreign automakers who oppose the tariffs.

Ross did not detail a new timeline to the Journal during the interview, but noted the legal cutoff date is not until February.

The August deadline was announced before renegotiation discussions regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began to progress, Ross noted. The talks have gone on for more than a year and appear to be close to culminating as trade officials from U.S. and Mexico said late last week they were close to settling key differences.

One of the main sectors the U.S. wanted addressed under a revamped agreement was the automotive industry.

President Trump said he would consider imposing tariffs of 20 percent to 25 percent on auto imports.

Automakers are largely against the move, warning it could drive up prices for consumers and eliminate domestic jobs.