Public Hearings on Potential Section 232 Auto Tariffs Begin Thursday

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The U.S. Department of Commerce. qingwa/Adobe Stock

The U.S. Department of Commerce launched a new investigation, under the aegis of the little-used but now ubiquitous Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, this time investigating imports of automobiles and automotive components.

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Unsurprisingly, while no decisions have been made as of yet regarding the imposition of new tariffs, the investigation in and of itself has led to outcry from automakers. In fact, as part of the Department of Commerce review process, more than 2,300 public comments were submitted in relation to the Section 232 automotive probe.

So, now that all parties involved are all revved up, what’s next?

The Department of Commerce will hold public hearings on the issue, beginning Thursday, July 19, and concluding Friday, July 20.

The first day of the hearing will kick off at 8:30 a.m. and include testimony from individuals “representing domestic and international companies, industry groups, labor, and foreign countries.”

The full agenda can be found here.

Jennifer Thomas, vice president of federal governments affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), will be the first speaker Thursday. The AAM released a statement late last month in response to the Trump administration’s decision to look into auto imports.

“While we understand that the Administration is working to achieve a level playing field, tariffs are not the right approach,” the statement read. “Tariffs on autos and auto parts raise vehicle prices for all customers, limit consumer choice and invite retaliatory action by our trading partners. Automakers support reducing trade barriers across the board and achieving fairness through facilitating rather than inhibiting trade.”

The Association of Global Automakers (AGA) will be represented by President and CEO John Bozzella. In May, the AGA released its own statement.

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“Contrary to the assumption underlying the investigation on import vehicles, the U.S. auto industry is thriving,” the statement read. “To our knowledge no one is asking for this protection. If these tariffs are imposed, consumers are going to take a big hit because they will have fewer vehicle choices and higher car and truck prices. This course of action will undermine the health and competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry and invite retaliation by our trading partners.”

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