Trump to shelve tariffs on European and Japanese vehicles for up to six months

US President Donald Trump has decided to delay the promised duties of 25 percent on European and Japanese cars by up to 180 days as Washington tries to clinch an effective trade deal with its partners.

Trump ordered US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to seek agreements to “address the threatened impairment” of national security from auto imports, stressing that the White House may opt to move forward with tariffs during the potential negotiations with Tokyo and Brussels.

“United States defense and military superiority depend on the competitiveness of our automobile industry and the research and development that industry generates,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

“The negotiation process will be led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and, if agreements are not reached within 180 days, the president will determine whether and what further action needs to be taken.”

Trump threatened to introduce tariffs on imported automobiles and spare car parts last year. Back then, the European commission vowed to retaliate by taxing $20 billion worth of US imports to the bloc, if the measure was implemented.

Foreign automakers have strongly opposed the tariff, saying the move could significantly hurt the American market, threaten thousands of US jobs, and cause a sharp spike in vehicle prices.