Trump, in Meeting, Urges Automakers to Build in United States

Trump, in Meeting, Urges Automakers to Build in United States

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Trump on ‘Big League’ Jobs Push

“We’re bring manufacturing back to the United States big league,” President Trump said in a meeting with automotive executives at the White House.


By CNBC on Publish Date January 24, 2017.


by CNBC.

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President Trump met on Tuesday with the chief executives of the three Detroit automakers and urged them to build new factories in the United States, and he vowed to change environmental regulations to encourage the creation of jobs.

The tenor of the White House meeting appeared far more cooperative than adversarial, despite the president’s repeated criticisms of automakers in recent weeks for building cars in Mexico for sale in the American market.

Mr. Trump stuck to the “America First” theme of his new administration, and he challenged executives of the automakers — General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler — to add jobs and production in exchange for more favorable regulations and tax policies.

“It’s the long-term jobs we are looking for,” Mr. Trump said in televised comments before the meeting with the chief executives — Mary T. Barra from G.M., Mark Fields of Ford and Sergio Marchionne from Fiat Chrysler.

Earlier in the day, the president made plain his interest in increasing auto jobs in a Twitter post. “I want new plants to be built here for cars sold here,” he wrote.

It is a provocative challenge for the Detroit companies, which have each added more than 25,000 jobs in the United States since the recession, when auto sales collapsed, and G.M. and Chrysler both went bankrupt and needed government bailouts to survive.

But with the American market coming off a record sales year of 17.5 million vehicles and car companies reporting big profits, the Detroit executives sounded eager to participate in the Trump administration’s pro-business agenda.

After the meeting, Mr. Fields said Ford was excited to participate in “a renaissance in American manufacturing,” and Ms. Barra said the industry could benefit from cooperating with Washington.

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“There’s a large opportunity in working together as an industry with the government,” she said.

Mr. Marchionne said in a statement, “We look forward to working with President Trump and members of Congress to strengthen American manufacturing.”

The meeting was notable in that foreign automakers such as Toyota and Honda were not invited, although factories owned by European and Asian companies account for about 40 percent of the vehicles assembled in the United States.

It also left open the question of how much more production capacity G.M., Ford and Fiat Chrysler can effectively add in the United States — particularly if consumer demand levels off or drops.

While the Detroit companies have significantly increased employment since 2009, the resurgence came only after extensive restructuring had shuttered dozens of excess plants to cut costs.

All three Detroit automakers have already pledged to add jobs and billions of dollars in new American investment after Mr. Trump publicly attacked G.M., Ford and Toyota for investing in Mexico. Ford, in particular, reversed course by canceling plans for a new $1.6 billion Mexican factory.

In his remarks just before the meeting, the president said automakers were “not being singled out” in his efforts to increase jobs in the United States and prevent more American investment in other countries.

Rather, he promised to change the prevailing business climate in the United States “from truly inhospitable to extremely hospitable,” and to streamline the regulatory approval process for new manufacturing operations.

Automakers in general have been supportive of less stringent fuel-economy rules than were enacted under the Obama administration. And while Mr. Trump declared himself “an environmentalist” at the meeting on Tuesday, he called current regulations “out of control.”

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