White House Could Delay Auto Tariff Decision

First Up 05/16/19

White House Could Delay Auto Tariff Decision
Politico reports that President Donald Trump is expected to delay a decision to impose tariffs on autos and auto parts, according to a source with direct knowledge of the issue. Administration officials fear that imposing duties on autos would hurt talks with China as well as potential trade negotiations with Japan and the European Union, the source said Wednesday. The White House declined to confirm reports that the tariff decision would be delayed. Bloomberg first reported, citing administration officials, that Trump could put off the decision by six months as the U.S. continues to start trade negotiations with the European Union and Japan. Auto dealers said they would rather have the president put an end to any potential tariff threat, arguing that a delay would only continue business uncertainty. "Delaying this decision is, in itself, a decision to allow ambiguity and insecurity to shadow auto retailers and hinder growth within the industry,” said Howard Hakes, a California auto dealer who serves as the chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association. Read more here. 

A Majority of Consumers Would Welcome Self-Driving Cars, Study Finds
A majority of consumers have a positive attitude toward self-driving cars, and are awaiting their introduction with "anticipation," a survey by the consulting group Capgemini has found. According to Automotive News, the survey, of more than 5,500 consumers and 280 automotive executives, seeks to understand consumer expectations and how automakers are responding to them. Among its findings: consumers trust established automakers more than startups to offer safe and reliable self-driving cars, and they are more optimistic than auto executives about overcoming the challenges and barriers to autonomous driving. "It's not just safety and the technical aspects of autonomous cars that will determine their adoption rate – it’s also the consumer experience," Markus Winkler, the director of the global automotive sector at Capgemini, said in an interview. Read more here.

U.S. Nears Deal with Canada, Mexico Over Removing Metals Tariffs
According to Automotive News, the Trump administration is nearing a deal with Canada and Mexico to remove U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs as part of discussions about a new trade agreement among the three countries, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. "I think we are close to an understanding with Mexico and Canada" on removing steel and aluminum tariffs, Mnuchin told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday morning. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is in “active discussions” over the issue, he said. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has said he would block ratification of Trump's revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, until the metals tariffs are lifted on the U.S. neighbors. U.S. officials have insisted they will only lift the tariffs if Canada and Mexico accept quotas or other mechanisms that would avoid them becoming a conduit for cheap steel entering the U.S. from other countries including China. Both Canada and Mexico have so far resisted such a plan. Read more here. 

U.S Retail Sales Unexpectedly Fall Amid Weak Auto Purchases
U.S. retail sales unexpectedly declined in April for the second time in three months, weighed down by soft sales of autos and building materials and suggesting consumer spending will remain subdued this quarter. According to Bloomberg, the value of overall sales declined 0.2 percent after a 1.7 percent increase the prior month that was the strongest gain since 2017, according to Commerce Department figures released Wednesday. That compared with the median forecast in Bloomberg’s survey calling for a 0.2 percent rise. The retail report followed another round of downbeat data from the Fed showing U.S. factory production fell in April for a third time in four months with a broad decline led by weakness in machinery and motor vehicles. The cooler readings on the world’s largest economy followed reports from China that industrial output, retail sales and investment all slowed more than economists forecast in April, underscoring challenges to global growth from Trump’s widening trade war. Read more here. 

Kia Offers First Look at New "Global Small SUV"
At the Seoul Motor Show in March Kia unveiled two concept vehicles hinting at how it plans to bookmark its SUV line-up, reports The Detroit Bureau. Now, it’s offering a pair of renderings that appear to show what the smaller of the two Korean concepts will actually look like in production. The “new global small SUV” was indeed, “inspired by the 2019 Kia SP Signature Concept,” Kia confirmed in a news release this morning. But it left plenty of other questions unanswered, including the name it will give the new offering and the precise timing of its global roll-out. “We have created a car which stands out everywhere, from the city to the countryside,” said Byung Chul Juh, head of styling for the Kia brand, adding that it will offer “a wide range of features and technologies that are universally suited to younger buyers in markets around the world.” Translation: look for lots of high-tech touches, like Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among other things, specifically geared towards urban Millennials. Read more here. 

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