The White House administration is contemplating ways it can require imported vehicles to meet stricter standards for the environment as a way to protect carmakers in the U.S., according to sources who are familiar with the thinking of the administration.
A spokesperson from the White House said that the president would promote fair, free as well as reciprocal trade to grow the economy in the U.S. and continue bringing new jobs and manufacturers back into the country.
Two automotive executives from the U.S. said on Friday they believed this idea was brought up in talks at the White House last week by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, yet said that the auto industry did not request changes or support them.
A spokesperson from the Commerce Department referred requests for comment to the administration..
Automakers in the U.S. have urged for many years the removal of non-tariff barriers in South Korea, Japan and other markets they believe unfairly hurt exports from the U.S. There are concerns as well that any new U.S. barriers that are non-tariff could violate rules established by the WTO.
Citing senior industry and administration officials who were unnamed, the Wall Street Journal said in its Friday report where this was first reported, that President Donald Trump had asked a number of agencies to pursue their plans of using existing laws to help subject cars that are foreign made to stiff standards for emissions.
It appears that such barriers could have more potential effect in a proportionate manner on European automakers, which combined import a higher percentage of vehicles from plants not in the U.S. according to Autodata sales figures.
In comparison, Korean and Japanese brands made approximately 70% of their autos they sold in the U.S. last year at plants in North America. European brands only built 30% in plants within North America.
Foreign carmakers have 17 assembly plants in the U.S., of which 12 are owned by manufacturers in Asia and virtually all of those are plants that are non-union and many of them in the country’s southern states.
Imported vehicles represent about 21% of all the 17.2 million units were sold during 1017 in the U.S.
The initiative by the White House is still in its infant planning stage, with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency working to establish a legal justification for this policy.