The Trump administration will delay tariffs on cars and auto part imports for up to six months as it negotiates trade deals with the European Union and Japan.
In a proclamation Friday, Trump said he directed U.S.Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to seek agreements to "address the threatened impairment" of national security from auto imports. Trump could choose to move forward with tariffs during the talks.
The White House had to decide by Saturday whether to slap duties on autos after the Commerce Department said earlier this year that he could justify the move on national security grounds. By law, the administration can push back its decision by up to 180 days if it is negotiating with trading partners.
Levying the auto tariffs threatened to open new fronts in a global trade war that could drag on the U.S. economy. The EU has already prepared a list of American goods to target with tariffs if Trump goes ahead with the car duties.
Automakers and some U.S. lawmakers opposed the potential tariffs. The car industry said the duties would put jobs in jeopardy and raise prices for consumers.
The decision comes after the U.S. and China fired new shots in their trade war. The White House is working to salvage a trade deal with Beijing amid the widening conflict.