U.S. President Donald Trump delayed for six months on Friday his decision whether to impose tariffs on automobile imports from the European Union (EU) and Japan.
The decision comes as Trump wrangles with China over a new trade deal. The negotiations between the world's top two economies have failed to meet successive expectations on a comprehensive accord.
The last round of talks fizzled last week without an agreement as each side imposed higher tariffs on imports, sending global markets downward.
Trump has separately been mulling a 25% tariff on auto imports from Japan and the EU, which would likely trigger retaliatory action from the bloc and East Asia's second largest economy. The White House had until Saturday to determine whether to apply the duties.
In his proclamation, Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to engage in negotiations with the EU and Japan and other unspecified countries to address Trump's claims of national security threats from auto imports.
"Under current circumstances, this action is necessary and appropriate to remove the threatened impairment of the national security," Trump wrote in his directive.
"The United States defense industrial base depends on the American-owned automotive sector for the development of technologies that are essential to maintaining our military superiority," Trump added.
Lighthizer is to report back to Trump within 180 days.