WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the White House was studying whether it should impose import penalties on all foreign automobiles in response to GM’s announcement that it was shuttering multiple U.S. plants.
The comment, made in a series of Twitter posts, was the latest attempt by Trump to revive his threat to slap tariffs on billions of dollars in auto imports from Japan, South Korea, Germany and other countries.
Trump has said in the past that those threats were meant as a way to extract concessions from other countries on unrelated trade matters.
But by connecting the threat to GM’s plans, he could put extreme pressure on other world leaders as they prepare to gather at the G-20 meeting in Argentina later this week.
Such a move could have a profound and immediate impact on the U.S. economy, as it could drive up the cost of automobiles for a huge segment of car buyers, forcing Americans to rethink major purchases that in the past have helped the economy grow.
Trump said tariffs on cars would be effective in reviving the U.S. auto industry because the U.S. has had a 25 percent tariff on light truck imports since 1964, which he said has helped shield the U.S. market from a flood of truck imports.
The President’s point is that by driving up the cost of foreign-made automobiles, U.S. consumers would gravitate toward less costly American-made products.