Auto tariffs being considered after GM layoff plans: Trump

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In his latest response to General Motors'(GM) decision to shut down U.S. factories and lay off workers, U.S. President Donald Trump hinted Wednesday that the government is considering slapping tariffs on auto imports.

In a series of tweets, Trump said a long-time 25 percent tariff on small trucks has benefited U.S. auto manufactures, and argued that a similar tariff for imported cars would protect U.S. manufacturing jobs, which could thus avoid a GM scenario.

"If we did that with cars coming in, many more cars would be built here and G.M. would not be closing their plants in Ohio, Michigan & Maryland. Get smart Congress," Trump wrote.

"The President has great power on this issue," he wrote. "Because of the G.M. event, it is being studied now!"

The United States imposed a 25 percent tariff on imported light trucks in the 1960s after France and West Germany imposed tariffs on U.S. chicken, so it was also called the "chicken tax," and was referred to by Trump in his tweet.

GM announced Monday that it could close several plants in the United States and cut more than 14,000 jobs, drawing harsh criticism from the U.S. president, who had promised to bring jobs back to America in his presidential campaign.

"The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get!" the president tweeted on Tuesday. He was referring to the 2008 government bailout that saved the auto giant from bankruptcy.

The president also threatened to revoke government subsidies for the company. "We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including for electric cars," he tweeted. Many assumed that Trump was referring to the 7,500-U.S.-dollar tax breaks the U.S. federal government grants to consumers who buy electric vehicles.

In its announcement, GM said it would effectively close five assembly and propulsion plants in the United States and Canada in 2019, a reorganization plan intended to make the company "highly agile, resilient and profitable." The move is expected to cut 15 percent of its salaried workforce.

In addition to a previously announced factory closure in South Korea, GM said it would also cease operations of another two unspecified plants outside North America by the end of 2019. The company estimated that the measures will save as much as 6 billion dollars. 

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