President Donald Trump's push for tariffs on imported cars and trucks threatened a shake-up of the global auto industry while motivating nations including China and Germany to reiterate commitments of varying strength to free trade.

The U.S. statement late Wednesday that it's investigating auto imports on national security concerns drew pointed responses from Japan and South Korea—two nations that have been at pains to placate Trump—as well as Germany.

It also ended the temporary calm between the United States and China, which, in contrast to Washington's actions, is said to be planning to reduce import duties on a range of consumer goods in a bid to open its market to outsiders.

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