It’s Theoretically Possible Wilbur Ross is Full of Crap

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

A deadline to either impose or formally delay tariffs on foreign cars and car parts recently passed with the Trump regime taking no official action; meaning the legal window of opportunity to impose those tariffs has passed. Some Republican senators have even spoken out to remind the Trump regime that their "national security" authority has expired and imposing tariffs for that reason would require the Commerce Department to restart the entire months-long process of imposing tariffs.

So, if the Trump regime were still planning to impose tariffs on foreign cars, how would they legally justify it?

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spoke to Reuters yesterday evening and said they haven't ruled out imposing tariffs on foreign cars and car parts and, if they want to, they could cite a completely unrelated ruling from the World Trade Organization.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday the Trump administration has not ruled out imposing tariffs on imported autos, after letting a review period end in November with no action.

Auto experts have said the U.S. administration may have to find other means if Trump wants to tax European or Japanese car imports, a key part of Trump's pledge to make America's trade relationships more fair. [...]

Ross said it was theoretically possible that Washington could use tariffs authorized by the World Trade Organization under a separate case over aircraft subsidies to impose tariffs on European car imports. But he declined to say if the administration was examining that possibility.

In the most vague sense, it is technically true that they could impose tariffs on foreign cars and car parts up to an amount previously authorized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) but, as you know, the Trump regime has already imposed tariffs on European goods from wine and spirits to cheese and purses. Trump's tariffs on European goods came into effect on October 18th.

If the Trump regime wants to impose more tariffs than the WTO has authorized, they'll have to go back to the organization and ask for permission.

Or, you know, they could just make shit up. I wouldn't put it past them.

Trump's Forever Trade War is not going to end until he's out of office.

  • muselet

    The WTO might have something to say about the US suddenly deciding to apply tariffs authorized for European goods to goods exported from Japan. Not that the Trump administration would care, mind.

    I think it’s most likely this administration will impose tariffs and dare the WTO to enforce the rules of global trade (echoing Joseph Stalin’s possibly-apocryphal query, “How many divisions does the pope have?”).

    Pity it’s so much easier to break things than to keep them working.