A U.S. conservative economic group on Thursday sued the U.S. Department of Commerce for not publishing an investigation report based on which the administration might impose import tariffs on cars and car parts.
The Cause of Action Institute (CoA), an independent nonprofit watchdog organization, said in a press release that it filed a lawsuit against the department for "failing to respond to" two requests made by the group seeking a copy of the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's final report to President Donald Trump regarding the investigation into whether foreign imports of motor vehicles and automotive parts threaten to impair U.S. national security.
The Commerce Department submitted the report, which is based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, to Trump on Feb. 17.
The president, who has long threatened the auto tariffs, has 90 days following the submission to decide whether to implement the punitive duties.
"The public should not have to take the government's word that the report supports tariffs when the administration withholds the document it claims supports its position," said James Valvo, counsel and senior policy advisor at CoA.
"The tariffs will harm American consumers and businesses, and the public has a right to see the information contained in the report," he added.
Speaking at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, the state of Ohio, on Wednesday, Trump touted what he called "a big, fat beautiful tariff" his administration imposed on steel and aluminum imports worldwide.
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told an event at Georgetown University in Washington early this month that the European Union (EU) "was seriously offended" by the tariffs the United States imposed on the bloc's steel and aluminum products, urging the U.S. government to scrap tariffs on European industrial goods.
After receiving the Section 232 investigation report, Trump said that the EU is "very tough to make a deal with," adding that the auto tariffs will be put into effect "if we don't make a deal."
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), a U.S. industry group, argued in a report released Monday that placing tariffs on approximately 265 U.S. billion dollars' worth of imports will hurt the U.S. economy by raising commodity prices and yielding an average loss of gross domestic product of 29 billion dollars per year for 10 years.
"Tariffs on steel, aluminum, and Chinese imports, as well as the potential for additional tariffs, are driving up the cost of production, delaying capital investments, and impeding job creation for our more than 1,000 member companies," said AEM President Dennis Slater.