The White House is circulating a draft report by the U.S. Commerce Department over whether to impose tariffs on automobile imports to protect national security, three people familiar with the matter said.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with senior members of his trade team on Tuesday to discuss how to proceed on the potential tariffs, two of the people said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, they didn’t give any insight into Commerce’s conclusions.
The department in May launched an investigation into the national-security impact of car imports under section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act—the same provision Trump used to justify steel and aluminum tariffs earlier this year.
The probe covers imports of automobiles, including SUVs, vans and light trucks, as well as auto parts. Commerce has until February to report its findings to the president, who has final say on any tariffs.
A Commerce spokesman declined to comment on an ongoing investigation, while White House communications staff had no immediate response.
At public hearings in July, companies and governments from Europe to Asia warned that duties on car imports would hurt the U.S. economy, disrupt the global automotive industry, and widen the rift between America and its closest allies.
There’s no indication when Trump will make a final decision on autos tariffs but he has repeatedly signaled that he’s getting impatient with his trading partners, including the European Union and Japan. Trump has threatened a 25 percent tariff on imported cars.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker signaled Monday that Europe’s avoidance of American car tariffs might last only until year-end, the latest indication of the fragility of the trans-Atlantic truce reached in the summer.
South Korea also has still not gotten assurances from the White House that it would be excluded from any potential auto tariffs even after it struck a revised trade deal with the Trump administration, two people familiar with the matter said.
The trade pact negotiated by Canada and Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement includes side agreements that would exempt the countries from any duties on cars. Annual vehicle exports up to 2.6 million units from each nation won’t be impacted by U.S. tariffs on foreign cars.