WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday he plans to present the results of a national security investigation into automobile imports to President Donald Trump in August.
The outcomes could affect Japanese, South Korean and other foreign automakers if they lead to the imposition of new tariffs. Trump is considering additional tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and parts.
"The work is continuing. Probably sometime in the month of August we'll be willing to render a report," Ross told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Iowa.
Ross said imposing tariffs on foreign cars and parts "may not be necessary, or it may be necessary."
There is speculation that Trump, whose "America First" trade policy has fueled concerns about a global trade war, may announce new auto tariffs before November's midterm elections.
"We will see," Ross added.
On May 23, the Commerce Department launched a Section 232 investigation into whether imports of cars and parts pose a risk to U.S. national security, similar to the reason Trump gave before slapping stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in March.
Ross said the same day that there is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imported cars and parts have eroded the U.S. auto industry.
Department data show the United States has posted large deficits in automobile trade with countries such as Japan, Germany, South Korea and Mexico.
In a department hearing last week, foreign governments -- including Japan, Canada and the European Union -- and American automobile industry groups expressed opposition to the investigation, dismissing the Trump administration's assertion that auto imports impair U.S. national security.
Industry groups said higher tariffs would harm American consumers and workers, along with the economy, citing an analysis that a 25 percent tariff would raise the price of an imported car by nearly $6,000 and the price of a U.S.-built car by $2,000.
Speaking in an address Thursday in Iowa, Trump defended the imposition of global tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum in March.
"Our steel industry is vital to our security and to our prosperity. If you don't have steel, you don't have a country," Trump said.
"Together, we're sending a message to our foreign competitors," he said. "The days of plundering American jobs and wealth, those days are over."