The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) held a policy panel discussion titled “Tariffs on Autos and Auto Parts: Auto Parts Are Not a Threat to National Security” on April 9 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
More than two dozen professionals from the motor vehicle industry, government, and the media attended the event, which featured a wide-ranging and in-depth discussion with Ann Wilson, MEMA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, and Chad Bown, Reginald Jones Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The panel was followed by a question and answer period.
Now that the Department of Commerce has completed a Section 232 national security investigation of imports of automobile and automotive parts, the motor vehicle parts supplier industry is struggling with uncertainty. The report, to date not made public, is now in President Trump’s hands, and he could impose tariffs on auto parts as high as 25 percent. MEMA has argued that these broad, unilateral, and import-restrictive measures, if imposed, could jeopardize the 871,000 vehicle supplier jobs in the U.S., harm the global competitiveness of the U.S., and diminish investment in the U.S.
“Jobs, investment, and customer prices, that what we are concerned about,” said Wilson as the panel started.
Tariffs, especially the threat of 232 auto tariffs, are “making it more difficult for producers in the United States to source in a global marketplace. And making it more costly hurts competitiveness of the industry,” Bown said.
The event was part of MEMA’s successful Policy Breakfast Series, which was launched in 2017. The series aims to highlight and explain the complexities of critical issues that affect the motor vehicle supplier industry. In recent months MEMA has addressed topics including tax reform, the new North American trade deal, workforce development, and emission standards. With these events, MEMA has earned a leadership role for the industry and has established a meaningful voice on issues in Washington.