WASHINGTON (CN) – Throwing ice on a policy move widely panned by economists, the Trump administration said Friday it would delay a plan to impose tariffs on imported cars and auto parts.
The White House said in a statement this morning that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will have 180 days to negotiate agreements on imports with the European Union, Japan and other countries. If the negotiations are not successful, President Donald Trump will “determine whether and what further action needs to be taken,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Defending the need for the tariffs meanwhile, Sanders pointed to a study from the Commerce Department that found the imports pose a threat to national security.
“United States defense and military superiority depend on the competitiveness of our automobile industry and the research and development that industry generates,” Sanders said Friday.
The delay comes amid a heightening trade war between the United States and China, with each country recently putting in place new tariffs on the other. The United States also moved this week to bar U.S. companies from buying telecom equipment from companies the U.S. government says pose a national security threat, including Chinese tech giant Huawei.