Trump threatens fresh tariffs in wake of GM plant closures

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters before boarding the Marine One helicopter to begin his travel to Mississippi from the White House in Washington

A 25-per-cent duty on imported light trucks was applied in the 1960s by President Lyndon Johnson in retaliation to West German tariffs on USA poultry.

The US President tweeted that tariffs were "being studied" and that duties could have stopped the GM closures. On Monday, the company said it would shutter five North American plants, stop building six low-selling passenger cars in North America and cut up to 15,000 jobs.

Trump said on Twitter that the 25 percent tariff placed on imported pickup trucks and commercial vans from markets outside North America in the 1960s has long boosted US vehicle production.

The White House has pledged not to move forward with imposing tariffs on the European Union or Japan as long as it is making constructive progress in trade talks.

On Tuesday, the U.S. president suggested he could place 10 percent tariffs on popular electronic products imported from China, also confirming that Washington would likely increase tariffs on Chinese production from 10 percent to 25 percent on 1 January. Media reports confirm the Trump administration remains very anxious about a consumer backlash to tariffs that will considerably raise the prices of popular electronic devices.

On Tuesday, Trump and other administration officials said they were considering stripping subsidies to GM, such as a credit given to buyers of electric vehicles, in retaliation. It goes without saying that a possible 25 per cent tariff would have an enormous impact on the United States auto industry.

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"If we did that with cars coming in, many more cars would be built here and GM would not be closing their plants in Ohio, Michigan & Maryland", Trump tweeted, adding that "The President has great power on this issue".

Trump tweeted: "Billions of Dollars are pouring into the coffers of the United States of America because of the Tariffs being charged to China, and there is a long way to go".

It comes a day before a highly anticipated meeting between Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The US imposed a 25% tariff on Chinese cars, on top of the 2.5% already in place. China, on the other hand imposes a 40 per cent tariff on all U.S. manufactured cars.

Additional tariffs on Chinese-made vehicle and parts would have a limited impact, said Kristin Dziczek, an economist at the Center for Automotive Research.

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