And so it begins. Even as the chorus grows against the potential tariffs on the auto industry in proper, the impact of the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, and the predictable Canadian tit-for-tat reaction to those tariffs, is starting to hit home in the form of price hike announcements from some parts manufacturers.
No doubt every supplier is coming to terms with what this means to their supply chain, their pricing, their existing supplier base, and, of course, the impact on the customer base.
This, even as tens of thousands of organizations seek exemptions and relief from this trade dispute.
It is a destabilizing situation that I hope will be just a blip in our otherwise smooth and wonderfully seamless (okay, not quite), cross-border trading relationship.
To me, the tariff approach is a blunt instrument, even when it’s deployed “strategically.”
As governments slug it out, companies, workers, and consumers (who are actually all the same people) are the ones whose noses get bloodied.
Fortunately, up to this point anyway, the auto sector has been spared direct intervention.
In this environment I believe it is important to remember it was the automotive sector at large that formed the model for what became free trade on this continent.
We are now some two generations from the foundational Auto Pact that paved the way for, and gave credence to, the value of the concept.
The U.S.–Canada Free Trade Agreement, and NAFTA that followed, would arguably never have happened if there weren’t the undeniable benefits of the Auto Pact to point to.
And while I understand the zeal to support our fellow Canadians in everyday commerce, this concept becomes complex – really, impossible in any true sense – in such an intricately interwoven automotive economy.
There is really only one North American aftermarket, in so many ways. We fight the same battles for the consumer, for access to repair information, for quality and standards, and to maintain confidence in the aftermarket as the clear choice for most of the driving public.
The continued supply of quality components and service to the driving public is what should remain everyone’s priority.
That is what the aftermarket’s reputation has been built on, and that has sustained it through troubled times in the past; ultimately, it’s what will sustain it well into the future.