Renewed Chinese auto tariffs would cost U.S. jobs, industry coalition warns

FILE PHOTO: Ford CEO James Hackett with Global Automakers CEO John Bozzella arrive for a White House meeting between senior executives from U.S. and foreign automakers and U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of a broad coalition of Japanese, German and South Korean automakers warned on Friday that renewed punitive Chinese tariffs on U.S. autos would hurt U.S. vehicle exports to China and put U.S. jobs at risk.

“The tit-for-tat tariffs, absent any meaningful negotiations, are damaging to the American auto industry,” John Bozzella, who chairs the ad-hoc group “Here for America” that includes Volkswagen AG VOWG_p.DE, Daimler AG DAIGn.DE and BMW AG BMWG.DE, said in a statement.

“When these tariffs were initially imposed by China in 2017, American exports of finished vehicles dropped by 50 percent. We can’t let that happen to American workers again,” added Bozzella, who also is chief executive of the Association of Global Automakers, a trade group representing Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T, Hyundai Motor 005380.KS, Nissan Motor Co 7201.T and other foreign-owned brands building vehicles in the United States.

China imported 190,118 U.S.-made vehicles in 2018, down by 35% from a year earlier, according to data from country’s top auto importer Sinomach Auto, citing trade tension and tariff adjustment.

Ford Motor Co F.N, a net auto exporter to China, said Friday in a statement it encouraged “the U.S. and China to find a near-term resolution on remaining issues through continued negotiations. It is essential for these two important economies to work together to advance balanced and fair trade.”

Reporting by David Lawder and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Tom Brown