Statement by the Press Secretary on the President's Meeting With the Auto Task Force

March 19, 1981

The President today met with members of the Auto Task Force. He was presented with a series of options. The discussion focused in part on the current situation in the auto industry, pending legislation on Capitol Hill, the overall U.S. trade posture, principles underlying American trade, and U.S. relations with Japan.

The question of how to proceed with regard to imports was left open for further discussion by the President. The President told the group he wanted to have an opportunity to meet with others before making a decision on the import issue. The earliest possible time we could expect that would be late next week.

The President reemphasized he remains committed to the principles of free trade and, in general, he believes the Government should not become deeply entangled with the economic fortunes of any company or industry. He believes the auto industry is now involved in a situation that is not entirely of its own making and the forces of Government bear some degree of responsibility. The Government must now bear part of the responsibility for helping the auto industry back on its feet.