Trump tells auto execs he'll clear the way for USA investment

Jon Howard
January 25, 2017

President Donald Trump is spending the morning meeting with auto executives as part of his push to bring jobs back to the U.S. "And that's massively. We're trying to get it down to anywhere from 15% to 20%", Trump told the business leaders, according to a report by the White House press pool.

On Monday, Mr Trump met prominent United States manufacturers, including Tesla Motors head Elon Musk, and said he would dramatically cut regulations and corporate taxes.

The president is planning to have breakfast with the CEO's of General Motors, Ford and Fiat to discuss how the companies can bring more jobs back to the industry.

While Japan imposes no tariffs on US -made cars, the USA levies a 2.5% import tax on Japanese cars. "We are very encouraged by the president and the economic policies that he is forwarding".

Ford Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. LLC have also recently announced large investments in their U.S. operations and the creation of new jobs.

Trump's camp has claimed the USA lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs after the recession in 2008 and promises to create 25 million new ones in the next decade. Still, the use of tariffs (essentially a large percentage tax on a auto, truck or SUV) could make foreign-built cars unattractive to USA buyers. Ford has canceled a $1.6 billion auto assembly plant in Mexico and has said it will spend $700 million to expand a MI factory instead.

"It's new territory for most of us", Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said during a discussion with reporters earlier this month.

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Ford's CEO said Trump's Monday meeting with business leaders was "very, very positive". It may have even more trouble if the president follows through on threats to tax imports from Mexico, where minimum hourly wages are less than one-sixth the average in the U.S.

The meeting is the latest sign of Trump's uncommon degree of intervention for a US president into corporate affairs as he has repeatedly jawboned automakers and other manufacturers to "buy American and hire American".

The meeting Tuesday marks the first time a U.S. president will be meeting with CEOs from the "big three" automakers since President Barack Obama cracked down on fuel-efficiency standards in 2011, according to Reuters. GM also said an unidentified company that will make parts for the next-generation pickups will move 100 jobs from Mexico to MI.

"I appreciate the President's focus on making the US a great place to do business". FCA has invested more than $9.6 billion in the USA since 2009 and has created 25,000 new jobs.

"We want regulations but we want real regulations that mean something", he said.

Of course, environmentalists are not jumping up and down at the thought of fewer regulations. "So we're going to be very friendly".

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