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article imageAmerican auto parts makers fear Trump tariffs will destroy jobs

By Karen Graham     Mar 3, 2018 in Politics
The motor vehicle supplier industry, which is the largest sector of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is speaking out against President Trump's proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products, saying 880,000 jobs could be at stake.
On Friday, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), which represents more than 1,000 companies that manufacture motor vehicle parts and components in the United States, issued a statement strongly opposing the tariffs on steel and aluminum announced on March 1 by the Trump administration.
Ann Wilson, a senior executive at MEMA, spoke with Reuters from a hotel in Mexico City, where she was lobbying NAFTA trade negotiators on behalf of the U.S. auto industry. She said her original purpose for being in Mexico has changed since the March 1 announcement by President Trump.
“Everybody is very concerned,” Wilson told Reuters on Friday. “We’ve seen it in the stock market and level of CEO calls I’ve been getting over the last 24 hours how much this is a concern and how much of this overrides everything else.”
US President Donald Trump said he will soon sign off on measures designed to protect US producers of...
US President Donald Trump said he will soon sign off on measures designed to protect US producers of steel and aluminum, sparking anger among key US trading allies as well as rival China
MANDEL NGAN, AFP
Wilson said both aluminum and steel, some of it specialty products, imported from Europe, Asia, and other regions, are crucial to the production of cars and trucks sold in the U.S. today and could raise the sale prices of those vehicles substantially.
And many economists are warning that instead of increasing employment, the tariffs will end up destroying many jobs in the industry. “Our industry was really pleased with what we accomplished with tax reform and the improvement in the economy, and a lot of that enthusiasm could all be for naught if we do something like this,” said Wilson.
Many in the auto parts manufacturing industry already realize that Trump will be creating a slippery slope with the tariffs. Some companies are worried that if the tariffs do go into place, they may not be able to adjust quickly enough and be forced out of business, and foreign suppliers could also look other places to sell their products.
“The smaller suppliers are the ones at risk because they can’t pivot and they can’t move their businesses,” said Wilson. “They may not be able to absorb this kind of cost. It’s not as simple as saying we’ll just make that specialty steel here.”
Specialty steel or aluminum includes such products as the steel tire cords used to reinforce tires or cylinders used for auto fuel injectors.
China produces about half of the world's steel but supplies less than two percent of the steel ...
China produces about half of the world's steel but supplies less than two percent of the steel imported by the United States
-, AFP/File
Cody Lusk, president and chief executive of the American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA), says the tariffs couldn't have come at a worse time. "Auto sales have flattened in recent months, and manufacturers are not prepared to absorb a sharp increase in the cost to build cars and trucks in America. The burden of these tariffs, as always, will be passed on to the American consumer," reports HDT Trucking Info.
In MEMA's statement, the organization said: "The motor vehicle supplier industry, which is the largest sector of manufacturing jobs in the United States, currently anticipates continued job growth for workers such as engineers, technicians and skilled trades – a magnitude of job growth that President Trump has made a priority."
"However, this growth assumes no adjustments to steel imports. Putting American jobs at risk runs counter to the Trump administration’s efforts to bring jobs back to the U.S."
More about Tariffs, MEMA, auto parts industry, Trade war, Politics