US initiates Section 232 investigation into vehicle, auto part imports: Commerce

Houston (Platts)--24 May 2018 1237 pm EDT/1637 GMT

The US Department of Commerce began a new Section 232 investigation Thursday, this time examining whether or not imports of vehicles and auto parts threaten US national security.

"There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry," Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

The decision to launch the investigation follows a meeting between Ross and President Donald Trump. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was also notified of the investigation.

Imports account for 48% of cars sold in the US, compared with 32% 20 years earlier, Commerce said without providing the years, and employment in the automotive sector was 22% lower in 2017 than in 1990.

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"This investigation will consider whether the decline of domestic automobile and automotive parts production threatens to weaken the internal economy of the United States, including by potentially reducing research, development, and jobs for skilled workers in connected vehicle systems, autonomous vehicles, fuel cells, electric motors and storage, advanced manufacturing processes, and other cutting-edge technologies," Commerce said. According to a trade lawyer, Commerce has 270 days from the investigation's initiation date (as listed in the federal register) to issue a report. The president then has 90 days from that point to make a decision on what relief, if any, is to be introduced, and 30 days from that date to implement it.

"A notice will be published shortly in the Federal Register announcing a hearing date and inviting comment from industry and the public to assist in the investigation," Commerce said.

The investigation follows Commerce's 232 investigation into steel and aluminum imports, which concluded in January. The steel and aluminum investigation ultimately resulted in a 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum entering the US.

--Rebecca Grenham,

--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,

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