The USTR statement follows a pair of tweets from Donald Trump in response to General Motors' decision to close several plants and layoff thousands of workers, in which Trump implied a higher tariff on cars imported to the USA could have prevented GM from closing factories.
A similar tariff on vehicle imports would mean "many more cars would be built here" and "GM would not be closing their plants in Ohio, Michigan & Maryland", he tweeted.
Addressing the current tensions between Washington and Beijing, US President Donald Trump defended his protectionist trade policies, urging companies to relocate facilities back to the United States and create more jobs for Americans.
Lighthizer called China's policies on auto tariffs "egregious" and said China's tariff on us automobile imports is 40%, compared to the USA tariff on Chinese auto imports of 27.5%.
Lighthizer said in a statement criticizing China's "egregious" tariffs on USA autos that he was taking such action at the direction of President Donald Trump.
According to Germany's Wirtschaftswoche magazine, Trump is already preparing to impose 25% tariffs on vehicle imports from everywhere except for Canada and Mexico, despite the fact that his administration has said it won't target the European Union and Japan with new tariffs while trade talks are ongoing.
"As the President has repeatedly noted, China's aggressive, State-directed industrial policies are causing severe harm to USA workers and manufacturers", Lighthizer said.
Trump is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina amidst the intensifying trade war between the world's two largest economies. "As of yet, China has not come to the table with proposals for meaningful reform".
The Trump administration ordered a review of the retaliatory auto tariffs enacted by China and singled out General Motors suggesting they could have prevented the layoffs and plant closures by following the businesses practices of other vehicle companies.
Trump, who has expressed anger over GM's closing of American auto plants this week, retweeted the tweet without comment.
Trump has threatened to eliminate all federal subsidies to GM in response to the company's planned closure of five plants and the elimination of 14,000 jobs in North America. The United States slapped an additional 25 percent tariff on Chinese-made vehicles earlier this year, prompting China to retaliate.
"As the president has repeatedly noted, China's aggressive, State-directed industrial policies are causing severe harm to USA workers and manufacturers", Lighthizer said in a statement.
The White House in recent weeks has reached out to the chief executives of German automakers including Daimler AG, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG about meeting to discuss the status of auto trade.