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WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday said he would delay tariffs on imports of cars and car parts from allies like Europe and Japan for six months, essentially setting a tight deadline for the United States to reach trade deals that have so far proved elusive.
Mr. Trump said he had determined that imports of cars and car parts were causing harm to the American automobile industry and that other countries had 180 days to address the problem through trade agreements with the United States. If no such agreements are reached, Mr. Trump said he would decide “whether and what further action needs to be taken,” a step that could include imposing 25 percent tariffs on foreign cars.
The decision offers a temporary reprieve to global automakers and auto suppliers, which had been bracing for punishing tariffs on cars sent into the United States. But it sets up a tense six-month period for the White House to reach trade deals that have already been complicated by disagreements. The United States has struggled to make headway in preliminary negotiations with the European Union, which has balked at Mr. Trump’s demands to allow more agricultural products into Europe. And talks with Japan have yet to move beyond the initial stages.
A decision to impose auto tariffs would have been Mr. Trump’s most aggressive trade measure yet. His administration has already imposed stiff levies on steel and aluminum and $250 billion worth of Chinese goods. But a tariff on cars and car parts was seen as an economically damaging escalation in the president’s quest to revise trade terms to benefit the United States.
While the prospect of a 25 percent tariff provoked an outcry from both industry and foreign governments, that opposition did not appear to be the primary reason behind the Trump administration’s decision.
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