Top executives from Detroit automakers met Monday with Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials and aired their concerns about changes the Trump administration is seeking to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump has pushed for companies to construct more auto assembly plants in the U.S., while also pushing for major changes to NAFTA that the automakers oppose. U.S. negotiators have proposed significant changes to the so-called rules of origin for autos in a bid to ensure more U.S.-made parts are used in vehicles assembled in North America, a change that the auto industry has warned could undercut Trump’s America-first goals.
“We view the modernization of NAFTA as an important opportunity to update the 23-year-old agreement and set the stage for an expansion of U.S. auto exports,” Matt Blunt, a former Missouri governor who leads the American Automotive Policy Council, a trade association representing Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said in a statement. “We also appreciate the opportunity to directly address the industry’s concerns with the administration’s rule of origin proposal.”
Blunt said there are other things the group would like to have added to NAFTA, including a provision to guard against currency manipulation by Mexico and Canada.
Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, GM CEO Mary Barra and Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, attended the White House meeting. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn were also scheduled to attend the meeting, Pence’s office said earlier on Monday.
Pence’s office issued a statement confirming the meeting and saying he emphasized “Trump’s commitment to enact historic tax cuts” and commitment to grow manufacturing in the U.S., reduce trade deficits and aid the car-making industry.
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President-elect Trump called out Rexnord, a global industrial company, on Twitter for “viciously firing” its employees in a planned move to Mexico. Unlike the deal he brokered at a nearby Carrier plant, there was no deal to save the 300 jobs.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump met with a dozen American manufacturers at the White House on Monday, pledging to slash regulations and cut corporate taxes, but warning them he would impose taxes on imports if they move production outside the country.
Trump, who took office on Friday, promised to bring manufacturing plants back to the United States – an issue he said helped him win the Nov. 8 election – and has not hesitated to call out by name companies that he thinks should bring outsourced production back home.
He asked the group of chief executives from companies including Ford, Dell Technologies, Tesla and others to make recommendations in 30 days to stimulate manufacturing, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris told reporters.
Trump, a Republican who took over from former Democratic President Barack Obama, was expected to sign executive orders later on Monday to renegotiate the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, and to formally withdraw the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The new president told the CEOs that he would like to cut corporate taxes to the 15 percent to 20 percent range, down from current statutory levels of 35 percent – a pledge that will require cooperation from the Republican-led U.S. Congress.
Fiat Chrysler said Sunday it would spend $1 billion on U.S. manufacturing, including modernizing plants in Michigan and Ohio, in a move that’s set to add 2,000 new jobs, Reuters reported.
According to the company’s plan, the plant in Warren, Michigan will be made capable of producing a pickup truck currently built in Mexico.
The Warren plant will make the new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer large SUVs. A plant in Toledo, Ohio also will get new equipment to make a new Jeep pickup.
The move by Fiat Chrysler follows a similar recent announcement made by a competing auto brand.
On Tuesday, Ford said it would cancel a $1.6 billion plant planned for Mexico and instead invest $700 million in a Michigan assembly plant. Though CEO Mark Fields said the decision would have gone ahead whether or not Donald Trump was elected president, Fields also said Trump’s “pro-growth policies” gave the company’s executives confidence.
The president-elect has taken many auto manufacturers to task for Mexican production and encouraged building more vehicles in the U.S. He tweeted at General Motors after the Ford announcement on Tuesday, threatening a “big border tax” for producing cars in Mexico and then selling them in the U.S. GM pushed back on that characterization of its business model.
Sunday’s announcement by Fiat Chrysler also follows news a day earlier that the company was recalling 100,000 mostly older trucks and SUVs to replace Takata air bag inflators.
Actor Mike Rowe praised plans by two major automakers to invest in American manufacturing, telling Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Monday that the issue “goes right to the national identity.”
Rowe spoke with “Tucker Carlson Tonight” the day after Fiat Chrysler announced it would invest $1 billion into two U.S. factories, a move the company said would create 2,000 jobs. Last week, Ford abandoned plans to build a $1.6 billion auto manufacturing plant in Mexico, a move Rowe described as a “big, fat victory.”
Toyota is set to make a $10 billion capital investment in the U.S. over the next five years, Toyota Motor North America chief executive Jim Lentz said during an interview at the Detroit auto show, Reuters reported.
The $10 billion figure matches Toyota’s investments from the previous five years.
The move follows similar commitments to U.S. production made by competitors Ford and Fiat Chrysler.
Donald Trump on Thursday specifically targeted Toyota in a tweet.
“Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax,” Trump tweeted.
On Monday morning, Trump lauded Ford and Fiat Chrysler for their recent announcements in a pair of tweets.
“It’s finally happening – Fiat Chrysler just announced plans to invest $1BILLION in Michigan and Ohio plants, adding 2000 jobs. This after Ford said last week that it will expand in Michigan and U.S. instead of building a BILLION dollar plant in Mexico. Thank you Ford & Fiat C!” he tweeted.
Ford Motor Co. is canceling plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Mexico and instead is investing $700 million in Michigan, the automaker announced on Tuesday.
The company’s CEO, Mark Fields, told CNN that the move is a “vote of confidence” in President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to create a pro-business environment. Fields emphasized, however, that he did not negotiate any special deal with Trump.
“We didn’t cut a deal with Trump,” he said. “We did it for our business.”
Trump bashed Ford on the campaign trail over the automaker’s plan to invest $1.6 billion in Mexico by shifting its North American small-car production south of the border. Ford had emphasized that the move would not affect U.S. jobs because the automaker would be putting new vehicles into the Michigan plants.
But now Ford will instead build the Ford Focus at an existing plant in Mexico. It will also invest $700 million in its plant in Flat Rock, Mich. and create 700 jobs in an effort to produce more electric and self-driving cars. The automaker has said it plans to build a fully self-driving car by 2021.
“I am thrilled that we have been able to secure additional UAW-Ford jobs for American workers,” said Jimmy Settles, United Auto Workers vice president, according to CNN.
A Ford spokeswoman told The Hill that Trump’s team was notified of their plans Tuesday morning.
Ford is not the only automaker to draw Trump’s ire. Earlier Tuesday, the president-elect blasted General Motors on Twitter, threatening a “big border tax” on GM models made in Mexico.