BMW could source more steel in US after tariff hike - report

By Dave Leggett | 1 June 2018

Donald Trump certainly ramped it up this week

Donald Trump certainly ramped it up this week

Car manufacturers who import materials and manufacture in the US will be anxiously eyeing the latest US moves in a deepening set of trade disputes between the Trump administration and countries around the world.

In the latest developments, the US has said that it will impose (from today, June 1) new metals import tariffs (25% on steel and 10% on aluminium) that will apply to close allies - such as neighbouring Canada and the EU - as well as the rest of the world. A temporary exemption for the EU has not been extended as negotiations between the EU and US failed to reach a successful conclusion.

However, Reuters reported today that BMW may increase the amount of steel it sources locally for its US Spartanburg plant. The report noted that the Spartanburg plant already sources more than 70% of its steel locally.

"We have a target to increase the US percentage, which is dependent on the availability of appropriate specification and quality," BMW said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Automakers are also nervous about the possibility of new US tariffs being extended to finished vehicles and parts. A new import tariff of as much as 25% on cars has been suggested and President Trump has authorised a US investigation into car imports, also using 'national security' as a justification for possible new measures.

Earlier this week, reports said that Trump had voiced a desire to take German cars off US roads.

Many analysts and observers caution that he has frequently used tough talk that appeals to his support base, but not always followed through with actions. However, the latest moves appear to indicate a willingness to follow through on at least some on his presidential campaign rhetoric that was high on economic nationalism and said that Trump would always put 'America first'.