US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has said possible tariffs on automakers are aimed at pushing companies to make more cars and other vehicles in the United States and the timing of any duties would depend on the success of ongoing negotiations.
"It's a very, very important component of the European situation," Ross told CNBC in an interview, according to Reuters.
"If we don't fix the auto and auto part trade deficit and the Chinese trade deficit, we're not going to get anywhere.
"The timing of this whole thing will largely be driven by what happens in negotiations," Ross said.
"China, we don't really import very much in the way of cars but we do import some parts.
"It's a very, very complicated picture but we're moving along at a very deliberate and very orderly pace," he added.
Reuters noted European automakers were to meet senior administration officials later on Tuesday as the US mulls tariffs on European-made cars. Top executives from Volkswagen and Daimler were set to attend, according to the White House.
Asked about the commerce department's analysis on whether to impose a 25% tariff on European vehicles, Ross said its report was undergoing normal review.
Automakers have warned for months that US tariffs would cost jobs and raise prices and several have said they are worried that GM's closures could prompt Trump to impose auto tariffs more quickly, the Reuters report added.