One of the most pivotal issues looming over the U.S. automotive industry took a step forward Sunday when the U.S. Department of Commerce submitted findings to President Donald Trump from its investigation into whether imported vehicles and automotive parts pose a threat to national security under Section 232 of U.S. trade law.

Trump has 90 days to respond to the report, which could include a recommendation for global tariffs as high as 25 percent on millions of imported fully assembled vehicles, automotive technologies, and components. Unfortunately, there’s still no word on what the findings entailed.

According to a Reuters story, details of the national security report—which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross submitted less than two hours before the deadline expired—have not been made public. Though officials have yet to disclose any findings, the industry already has begun lobbying against any action with warnings of lost jobs and increased costs.

In a prepared statement, the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association said it is “alarmed and dismayed” that the Section 232 tariff report has not been made public. The organization called for its immediate release, adding that secrecy around the report adds to widespread uncertainty and concern in the industry.

“These tariffs, if applied, could move the development and implementation of new automotive technologies off shore, leaving America behind,” the association said. “If we lose the opportunity to develop and manufacture new technologies in the U.S., we will have little opportunity to recoup these losses for a decade or more.”

The Specialty Equipment Market Association also decried the use of tariffs, noting that many other mechanisms—such as product dumping actions and sanctions to address counterfeiting—could be a more effective solution.

“Tariffs are a sledgehammer approach with unintended consequences,” SEMA said. “Once imposed, they become difficult to withdraw as other countries pursue retaliatory measures. In fact, tariffs may ultimately make U.S. manufacturers less competitive in a global economy, which has been reflected by the growing trade imbalance in 2018 even as tariffs have been both implemented and increased.”

The potential economic impact of tariffs is worrisome for many. In a new study, the Center for Automotive Research reported that broad U.S. import tariffs and trade restrictions could cost 366,000 jobs, increase average vehicle cost by $2,750, and reduce U.S. vehicle sales by 1.3 million units per year. In addition, higher automotive parts prices will lead to increase maintenance and repair costs.

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Author: Will Schertz

Will is a contributing writer for OnAllCylinders. His automotive writing career stretches back longer than a decade and includes a stint as senior reporter for one of the tire industry’s largest trade publications. He enjoys long walks on the beach, romantic candlelit dinners, and thinly veiled sarcasm. Will lives with his beautiful wife and two small humans who steal his food and "need" more LEGOs.