Saturday, May 18, 2024

Trump threatens 100% tariffs on Mexican-made cars by China companies

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Former President Donald Trump said he would hit cars made in Mexico by Chinese companies with a 100% tariff, double the levy he has previously said he would put on automobiles made south of the U.S. border.

Trump addressed Chinese President Xi Jinping directly during a rally speech in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday when threatening the tariffs.

“Those big monster car manufacturing plants you are building in Mexico right now and you think you are going to get that — not hire Americans and you’re going to sell the car to us, no,” Trump said. “We are going to put a 100% tariff on every car that comes across the lot.”

Trump continued by saying it would be a “bloodbath” if he didn’t win this year’s U.S. presidential election.

Earlier this month Trump threatened a 50% tariff on Chinese cars. He has also proposed tariffs of as much as 60% on all Chinese goods and 10% on goods made anywhere in the world. He said he’s not worried about retaliatory measures from China or other countries.

“You screw us and we’ll screw you,” he said. “It’s very simple, very fair.”

As president, Trump focused heavily on the idea that the U.S. was being ripped off by bad trade deals and cheating, embarking in 2018 on a trade war with China that saw round after round of escalation as the two countries enacted tariffs on each other’s products.

Trump’s most significant actions on trade included the trade war with China; broad implementation of tariffs; replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement; and exiting the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement negotiated under President Barack Obama.

International trade and automotive industry experts at the time, however, said the Trump administration’s signature trade policies did little to bring back U.S. manufacturing jobs and achieve his goal of balancing the trade deficit. Indeed, the U.S. trade deficit was higher in 2020, at $678.7 billion than it was when Trump took office — $502.3 billion. It rose further during the Biden presidency, ending 2023 at $773.4 billion.

The trade deficit with China, however, dropped from $347 billion when Trump took office to $308 billion in 2020. Though it rose again in the first years of the Biden administration, it fell to $280 billion at the end of 2023.

In Michigan, manufacturing employment stood at 617,100 when Trump took office in January 2017, according to federal data. It peaked at 634,200 in December 2018, but by December 2020, manufacturing jobs declined to 580,000 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2024, it had rebounded to 609,000.

Trump’s proposed 100% tariff levied on the price of a Chinese automakers’ vehicles assembled in Mexico escalates threats the former president made on Feb. 27 during Michigan’s presidential primary, which he handily won.

“I’m going to put tariffs so that we’re going to make the cars in this country, not China and all of these other countries,” Trump told WFDF-AM (910) Superstation host Justin Barclay on the morning of the primary.

Trump clinched the Republican Party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night, allowing him to fully turn his attention toward a rematch with President Joe Biden in November. Biden on Tuesday won enough delegates for the Democratic nomination.

In recent weeks, Biden and one of his top surrogates, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain, have been clashing with Trump on manufacturing policy. Biden has highlighted the UAW’s gains following a six-week strike of General Motors, Stellantis and Ford Motor Co. last fall, while Trump has turned his attention to Chinese automakers investing in Mexican plants.

More: Biden touts deal to reopen idled Stellantis plant in State of the Union address

More: UAW president, Trump clash over future of auto industry

Trump, despite facing four criminal cases, has only tightened his grip on the GOP in his third White House run. The Republican National Committee is now helmed by three close allies, including his daughter in-law Lara Trump as co-chair. The shakeup saw more than 60 staffers fired on Monday.

Trump’s rally on Saturday took him to a once-traditional swing state where his populist message brought him easy victories in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

This year, Ohio also hosts a Senate race that will be critical to Democratic hopes of retaining control of the chamber. Republicans face a three-way contest in the state’s March 19 primary for a candidate to take on Democrat Sherrod Brown in the general election.

Trump has endorsed tech executive Bernie Moreno for the Senate seat, putting him at odds with Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who has backed Matt Dolan, a moderate who didn’t seek Trump’s support. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is also running.

Moreno, who attended Saturday’s rally, called Trump a “great American.” Trump also took a swipe at Dolan, calling him “the next Mitt Romney” and claiming he is embracing “woke left lunatics.”

The Detroit News contributed.

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