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U.S. Auto Tariff Risk Put These ETFs and Stocks in Focus

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Adding fuel to the ongoing trade tensions, the Trump administration has initiated a national security investigation into auto imports that may result in fresh tariffs. And U.S. President Donald Trump’s urging that any deal would need “a different structure” has stirred global trade worries all over again.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, a national security probe into car and truck imports would inspect if vehicle and auto parts imports are pressurizing the domestic auto industry. The move has been taken in the wake of the fact that the U.S. auto industry has been suffering for decades thanks to rising imports from abroad.

According to the source, the United States imported 8.3 million vehicles in 2017, worth $192 billion. Imports include 2.4 million from Mexico, 1.8 million from Canada, 1.7 million from Japan, 930,000 from South Korea and 500,000 from Germany, while the United States exported about 2 million vehicles worldwide, worth $57 billion.

With President Trump promoting the “America First” principle from his campaign days, intending to bring U.S. manufacturing jobs back to the country and strictly opposing outsourcing, such moves are no surprise (read: Welcome Trump Era with These ETFs).

The auto tariff threat came upon the 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Both steel and aluminum are vital to the production of cars and trucks sold in America and would push up the sale prices of those vehicles considerably. Trump in fact is now reportedly planning to levy tariffs to the tune of 20% or 25% on some imported vehicles.

Fallout of Auto Move

Since his campaign days, Trump is also trying to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to take more auto production back to the homeland. So, the United States’ NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico, will feel the pressure. Also, Japan and the European Union are likely to bear the brunt of the move as both regions export substantial numbers of vehicles to the United States (read: Here's an ETF to "Make America Great Again").

Country ETFs at Risk

If the tariff is imposed, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Japan and South Korea will suffer. Needless to say, these issues do not go well with country ETFs like iShares MSCI Mexico Capped EWW and iShares MSCI Canada ETF EWC, iShares MSCI Germany ETF EWG, iShares MSCI South Korea ETF EWY and iShares MSCI Japan ETF EWJ.

 A Mixed-Bag Impact is Expected on Auto ETF

There is a pure play auto ETF, namely First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto Index Fund CARZ. The fund has the highest exposure to Japan (34.31%) followed by United States (20.86%), Germany (19.82%) and France (8.67%). While U.S. auto companies will be benefited from the latest tariff threat, foreign auto companies will be in pain (read: Play Sector ETFs With Strong Beat Ratios).

Auto Stocks to Ache

Prospects of higher tariffs would be a huge headwind for Asian automakers including Toyota Motor Corp TM, Nissan Motor Co, Honda Motor Co HMC and Hyundai. As a result, the announcement caused a broad-based selloff in those Asian auto stocks. Also, foreign auto companies like Italy’s Ferrari N.V. RACE and Canada’s auto part wholesaler Magna International Inc. MGA may see some weak trading in the near term.

Auto Stocks to Jump 

U.S.-based auto companies are now in advantageous positions. Added to the tailwinds, there was a reduction in import tariffs in China for automobiles and car parts effective Jul 1. The import duties have been reduced from 25% to 15% for vehicles and from 10% to 6% for auto parts including bumpers, doors and seat belts (read: China Cuts Auto Tariffs: ETF & Stocks Set To Soar).

Investors can have a look at Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) General Motors Company (GM - Free Report) which is headquartered in Detroit, MI. Another company Tesla Inc. TSLA, headquartered in Palo Alto, CA also has a Zacks Rank #2. Though American multinational automotive company Ford Motor Company F has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), the company should profit out of the move.

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