From US-China to World Trade War, Auto Edn

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 4/07/2018 03:25:00 PM
If you want yourself beaten up in world trade, the Trump administration has the best automobile trade.
Apparently not done after baiting China--supposedly, Trump now wants to apply 25% tariffs on $150B instead of "only" $50B worth of PRC-sourced goods--we receive news that the Great American Leader now wants to punish the Europeans, too. The circumstances of this forthcoming trade bust-up are even more unbelievable if you think about them. Let me explain.

Recently, the Trump administration has proposed rolling back environmental regulations the previous Obama administration set on automobiles to benefit American automakers:
The Trump administration on Monday rejected an Obama-era plan to make automobiles more fuel efficient, opening up a long process to weaken current standards and putting California and the federal government on a collision course over vehicle emissions.

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in a statement that the standards on model year 2022 to 2025 vehicles were not appropriate and should be revised. The Obama administration set the average fleet-wide fuel efficiency standards “too high” and “made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality,” Pruitt said. He did not offer specifics on revising them.

The standards called for roughly doubling by 2025 the average fuel efficiency of new vehicles sold in the United States to about 50 miles (80 km) per gallon. Proponents said they could help spur innovation in clean technologies.
Yeah, screw the Earth! There's no such thing as global warming! Drill, baby, drill! You're with me right? Well, um, er, apparently, the Trump administration is not even with itself.  In its quest to bash those cheating foreigners--this time the Europeans--it appears they're seeking restrictions on cars imported from the European Union because of...I am not making this stuff up...environmental violations:
The Trump administration is considering ways to require imported automobiles to meet stricter environmental standards in order to protect U.S. carmakers, according to two sources familiar with the administration’s thinking.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump “will promote free, fair and reciprocal trade practices to grow the U.S. economy and continue to (bring) jobs and manufacturers back to the U.S.”

Two U.S. automotive executives said Friday they believed the idea had been floated in White House talks last week by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, but said the auto industry had not asked for the changes or backed them.
Aside from rolling back environmental regulations for domestic firms while seeking to raise them for foreign ones, it's doubly rich insofar as American automakers have long complained about other countries' "non-tariff barriers" [NTBs] like environmental regulations. The Europeans will be hit harder insofar as brands which sell their wares Stateside have a smaller US manufacturing footprint:
U.S. automakers have long urged removal of non-tariff barriers in Japan, South Korea and other markets that they believe unfairly hinder U.S. exports. There are also concerns that any new non-tariff U.S. barriers could violate WTO rules.

Citing unnamed senior administration and industry officials, the Journal said Trump had asked several agencies to pursue plans to use existing laws to subject foreign-made cars to stiff emission standards.

It appears such non-tariff barriers could have a greater potential effect proportionately on European automakers, which collectively import a greater percentage of cars from plants outside the United States, according to sales figures from Autodata.

In comparison, Japanese and Korean brands made about 70 percent of the vehicles they sold last year in the United States at North American plants. European brands built only 30 percent in North America.
Assuming the United States remains in the World Trade Organization, something we're unsure of these days, this idiocy would be the most open-and-shut case of discrimination against foreign producers you could possibly find. That they are willing to do something so blatantly discriminatory is either the product of unimaginable foolhardiness or an all-out attitude of not caring anymore what other countries believe. It's every country out for itself. With climate change denier Scott "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" Pruitt as your environmental regulator, these sorts of inconsistencies were perhaps bound to happen since he's more concerned with living the good life than any semblance of coherent policy.

These are the times we find ourselves in.