SEOUL, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Major South Korean carmakers voiced concern over the U.S. protectionist move on imports of automobiles and auto parts, local broadcaster KBS reported Monday citing a statement presented to the U.S. government.
Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors have jointly presented a written statement to the U.S. Commerce Department, saying that if Washington slaps tariffs of 25 percent on imported cars and auto parts, it would inevitably deal a blow to the U.S. labor market.
Under instruction from U.S. President Donald Trump, the Department of Commerce initiated a so-called Section 232 investigation in late May into the implications of car and auto parts imports to the U.S. national security.
The probe was based on a rarely-used Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, which can lead to the imposition of as high as 25 percent of tariffs on imported vehicles and car parts.
The Section 232, legislated in 1962, had been a dead law until President Trump recalled it and caused controversy around the world.
Hyundai said it manufactures nearly half of the cars it sells in the U.S. market on the U.S. soil, employing over 25,000 U.S. workers for the operation.
If put in place, the tariffs would drive up the production costs of U.S. plants which could lead to a drop in profitability and ultimately prompt it to slash employment and investment, according to the South Korean carmaker.
KBS reported that U.S. carmakers, including General Motors and Ford, were protesting the high tariffs. Some experts were quoted as saying a slump in car production on the U.S. soil could result in as many as 620,000 people losing their jobs.
Je Hyun-jung, an expert at the Korea International Trade Association, was quoted as saying a large number of global carmakers, including Hyundai and Kia, contributed to creating jobs in the United States.
The expert added that if Washington takes a step on imported cars, the move will likely hit the overall U.S. economy.