THE Ford F-150 pickup truck has been America’s bestselling vehicle for years. In Dearborn, a city near Detroit, a factory that once produced Henry Ford’s Model A now cranks out one of these all-aluminium tributes to testosterone every 53 seconds. The F-150 is so profitable—informed rumours suggest each adds nearly $13,000 to Ford’s bottom line—that it is known around town as “the bank”.
It is also assembled in America with more American parts than most vehicles, and so about as impregnable as they come to President Donald Trump’s trade policies. Even so, over 15% of each pickup comes from Canada and Mexico and another 15% from outside North America. “Tariffs on Canadian aluminium hit the F-150 hard,” confirms a top logistics manager. The tariffs in question are Mr Trump’s duties of 10% on imported aluminium and 25% on imported steel, which took effect on June 1st. They are not the only source of disruption to an industry responsible for $522bn of exports and imports a year, more than one-tenth of America’s trade.
Earlier this year Mr Trump levied tariffs on $34bn of Chinese goods, including one of 25% on cars (another $16bn of goods were hit this week). China retaliated by raising its tariff on American cars from 25% to 40%. Partly to put pressure on Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the president has also threatened a 25% tariff on all car imports, invoking a provision of an old law which allows him to restrict trade to safeguard national security. That would immediately hit $208bn of car imports, not counting parts, according to the Peterson Institute of International Economics, a think-tank. American marques would be hit, too: four in five Chryslers and Dodges are made abroad (see chart).
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