Trump ‘inclined’ to impose new U.S. auto tariffs, says senator

U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to move ahead with tariffs on imported vehicles, a move that could prompt the European Union to agree a new trade deal, said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley on Wednesday.

“I think the president’s inclined to do it,” the Republican senator told reporters. “I think Europe (is) very very concerned about those tariffs … It may be the instrument that gets Europe to negotiate.”

U.S. Commerce Department recommendations into whether Trump should impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and parts on national security grounds are due by mid-February. A Commerce Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Grassley, who has had regular talks with Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on trade issues, said he did not like new tariffs but “they are a fact of life when Trump is in the White House.” He said they may have been an “effective tool” in getting China, Canada, Mexico and others to negotiate on trade.

Iowa senator Grassley also wants the E.U. to agree to include agricultural issues in trade talks, although E.U. trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström said last week the 28-country bloc could not negotiate on agriculture.