A threat by the US government to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported auto parts could hit consumers in unexpected ways: higher fix costs, insurance premiums and even the theft of more cars for their parts, the industry said. A roster of more than 40 auto industry and government representatives speaking at the hearing expressed near-universal opposition in written comments submitted weeks earlier.
The Mexican ambassador was one of more than three dozen representatives scheduled to testify, most of whom oppose the measure, which represents one of the most sweeping Mr Trump has proposed.
"The opposition to this investigation is widespread and deep because the damaging consequences are alarming".
Auto workers from high auto-production states such as Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and SC protested in Washington.
The Michigan-based think-tank estimates USA consumers would see the average price of new imports rise by US$6,875, if a 25 per cent tariff is applied, or up to US$2,750 if a 10 per cent tariff is imposed to imports from all countries.
"We have come together as a united USA auto industry ... to urge your administration to achieve fair trade through policies that won't jeopardize American jobs, our economy or USA technological leadership".
Imposing a 25 percent tariff on auto imports would raise the price of the typical new vehicle sold in the U.S. And one in seven consumers would delay purchasing a vehicle until the tariffs are removed, with only 7 percent saying they would pay more an imported vehicle they liked.
The Auto Care Association joined a coalition of major auto industry groups representing almost 10 million jobs in the United States to urge the Trump administration to avoid imposing additional tariffs on imported autos and auto parts. At the Trump administration's urging, the two countries renegotiated the agreement and announced revisions to it in March, including a further opening of the Korean auto market to the U.S.
As long as Congress allows Donald Trump to label Canada and the European countries as a threat to national security, the negative impacts of Trump's policy will continue.
Fortunately, the Trump Administration has not enacted this threat of 25 percent tariffs just yet since the Commerce Department states it is still "collecting all the facts, and completing a careful analysis".
"This is not merely a weak basis on which to conduct a Section 232 investigation, but one that is profoundly and dangerously wrong", he said. "The department did recommend action in our investigations of steel and aluminum imports, but each industry is different", he said.
Putting levies on the highly integrated, economically critical North American auto industry and its supply chains would lead to large-scale layoffs on both sides of the border, numerous experts have argued.
Japan's envoy Kazutoshi Aikawa said that since Trump took office in January of previous year, Japanese automakers and other companies have announced new investment plans to create 28,000 jobs in the US.
"Maintaining open trade in autos and auto parts between our countries is crucial to the economic well-being of our companies, our communities and our workers, which, in turn, supports our collective security", Hillman said.
"If the US puts on substantial auto tariffs, this is yet another policy grenade going off in the trade policy landscape", she said.
When asked about the tariffs, a spokeswoman for Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who is the Republican front-runner seeking Corker's seat and who Trump has supported, said the tariffs aren't good for Tennessee, but that she would work with the commerce department.