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Trump says threat of auto tariffs is biggest weapon in trade disputes

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said he sees his threat to impose global auto tariffs as his biggest weapon to extract concessions from trading partners, shedding more light on his broader trade policy strategy.

“You know, the cars are the big one,” Trump told Fox News in an interview broadcast Sunday. “We can talk steel, we talk everything. The big thing is cars.”

Trump was referring to a study launched by his administration in late May into whether to impose 20% tariffs on imported vehicles in the name of national security.

Administration officials have said no decision has been made on whether to actually do so, but they have suggested they are looking to make a decision before the November elections. While the president has talked repeatedly about moving to stymie car imports, his comments cast the threat in a new light, showing how he views the sector as his most important leverage in trying to win concessions from trading partners around the world, especially Mexico, Europe, and Japan.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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July 1, 2018

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