US Tariffs on More Foreign Vehicles Would Have Prevented GM Plant Closures

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters before boarding the Marine One helicopter to begin his travel to Mississippi from the White House in Washington

US will examine how to 'equalize' auto tariffs with China

The company has no plans to shift production of those vehicles to other markets.

Lighthizer said in a statement criticizing China's "egregious" tariffs on United States autos that he was taking such action at the direction of President Donald Trump.

The US president has lashed out at GM over its plan to cut more than 14,000 jobs and close factories in North America.

In a pair of Wednesday tweets, the president pointed to the 25% levies that are placed on pickup-truck imports into the USA, and said this "chicken tax" was the reason why the US small truck business is doing well. The US has agreed with Japan and the European Union to hold off on additional tariffs on auto imports while trade negotiations are underway.

On Tuesday, the United States president suggested he could place 10 percent tariffs on popular electronic products imported from China, also confirming that Washington would likely increase tariffs on Chinese production from 10 percent to 25 percent on 1 January.

While his latest comments mark an escalation in frustration over GM's restructuring plan, the administration has always been considering imposing new tariffs on vehicle imports.

For Mr Trump in particular, the cuts are a blow, as he has made rebuilding the U.S. auto industry one of his administration's priorities.

Trump departed midday for a summit of world leaders in Argentina, where he is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss a widening trade war between Washington and Beijing.

"China's policies are especially egregious with respect to automobile tariffs", Mr Lighthizer said. It is called the 'chicken tax.' If we did that with cars coming in, many more cars would be built here [.] and G.M. would not be closing their plants in Ohio, Michigan & Maryland.

Such tariffs would have prevented GM from shuttering its USA plants, Trump added.

Trump has also harshly criticized GM for building cars in China.

Vehicle tariffs on both sides have increased in the US-China trade war. The Chinese previous year shipped just $884 million worth of cars and light trucks to the United States - less than 1 percent of total auto imports.

Trump said it was "highly unlikely" he'll accept China's request to postpone the tariff hike, which will take effect on January 1, 2019.

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