WASHINGTON — Automotive interests are united in opposing proposed White House tariffs on autos and auto parts. For months, they have been coordinating advocacy and education efforts to show administration officials how trade restrictions would damage a globally integrated industry.
But what's the point?
It's becoming increasingly clear that traditional lobbying efforts are ineffective with a president who has reveled in provoking conflict with U.S. trading partners and an administration that perceives the global trading system as so inherently unfair to the U.S. that it's worth blowing up.
With steel and aluminum tariffs in force against key U.S. allies, another tariff war set to begin with China and more trading partners pledging to retaliate against U.S. exports, the administration's trade campaign has already stirred more disarray in global trade than the auto industry feared when Donald Trump was on the campaign trail.
And there is little hope Trump and his close trade advisers will pull back, especially when the president remains fixated on the US$200 billion trade deficit in autos. The only chance for reversal, some observers here say, is massive political pressure generated by TV visuals of factories closing and blue-collar workers in unemployment lines because of Trump's tariff decisions.