According to a White House statement, Mr Trump has given his administration 180 days to reach new deals with the European Union and Japan that address the national security 'threat' posed by automobile imports.
"I have decided to direct the United States Trade Representative to pursue negotiation of agreements contemplated in 19 U.S.C. 1862(c)(3)(A)(i) to address the threatened impairment of the national security with respect to imported automobiles and certain automobile parts from the European Union, Japan, and any other country the Trade Representative deems appropriate, and to update me on the progress of such negotiations within 180 days," Trump said in the proclamation.
In February the Commerce Department gave Mr Trump a report saying that he could justify the duties by citing a national security threat. However, the industry group Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said that "imposing tariffs on imported vehicles and parts would be a mistake, with significant negative consequences" for the auto industry and its employees.
In 2018 the US imported $191.7 billion in passenger vehicles and light trucks, with more than $90 billion of these imports coming from Canada and Mexico, which are duty-free under USMCA, Bloomberg says. Passenger cars are now subject to a 2.5 percent US tariff but Mr Trump has threatened to raise it to 25 per cent, claiming that the EU and other trading partners have higher barriers against US auto exports.