Elon Musk goes on tweetstorm, siding with Trump over tariffs

SpaceX and Tesla chieftain Elon Musk has gone on a tweetstorm, tweeting to President Donald Trump about his recently announced tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum.

Musk, who was a member of President Trump's advisory council but left in June 2017, asked the president whether the U.S. and China should have the same rules for cars, delving into international trade policy at a time when it has become a touchy subject for many domestic corporations.

"Do you think the US & China should have equal & fair rules for cars?" Musk wrote. "Meaning, same import duties, ownership constraints & other factors."


Musk added that American companies that ship their cars to China pay a significantly larger import duty than Chinese cars that come to the U.S.

"For example, an American car going to China pays 25% import duty, but a Chinese car coming to the US only pays 2.5%, a tenfold difference," Musk tweeted.

He also said that American companies that set up factories in China effectively have to have a joint-venture with Chinese counterparts, allowing them to own no more than 50 percent of the factory in China.

"Also, no US auto company is allowed to own even 50% of their own factory in China, but there are five 100% China-owned EV [electric vehicle] auto companies in the US," Musk wrote.

He also noted that he is generally for free trade, but highlighted the fact the current regulations make it difficult. He likened it to "competing in an Olympic race wearing lead shoes."

Musk, 46, concluded his tweetstorm by noting that he had raised the issue with the Obama administration, but nothing was ever resolved.

"We raised this with the prior administration and nothing happened," Musk wrote. "Just want a fair outcome, ideally where tariffs/rules are equally moderate. Nothing more. Hope this does not seem unreasonable."

President Trump has come under fire from both Republicans and Democrats for his announcement on tariffs last week, which would see foreign-made steel imports be taxed at 25 percent and aluminum be taxed at 10 percent.


On Thursday, President Trump signed the order Thursday that imposes tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from all foreign countries, while carving out an exception for Canada and Mexico for now while North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations are under way, White House officials told Fox News.

The president, joined by steel and aluminum workers, signed the companion proclamation — one on steel and one on aluminum – that will institute a tariff of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports. The tariffs will become effective in 15 days, with exclusions for Mexico and Canada taking effect “immediately,” officials said.

“A nation that does not protect prosperity at home cannot protect its interests abroad,” the president said. “When it comes time where our country can’t make aluminum and steel, you almost don’t have much of a country.”

Earlier this week, Trump hinted that he would sign controversial tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel Thursday, but also suggested flexibility for “real friends” abroad who treat the U.S. fairly.

This story has been updated to reflect President Trump has signed the tariffs. Fox News' Adam Shaw, Brooke Singman and Nicole Darrah contributed to this report.