President Trump wasted no time setting as official policy the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the renegotiation of NAFTA, placing his election promise to bring jobs and industry back to America front and center.
Straight after Trump was sworn in, the administration got to work and pledged to negotiate “tough and fair” trade agreements in order to create more U.S. jobs and make the United States a manufacturing powerhouse once more. The strategy has been listed as one of the new administration’s top policy issues on Whitehouse.gov.
“This strategy starts by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and making certain that any new trade deals are in the interests of American workers,” the statement says. “President Trump is committed to renegotiating NAFTA. If our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from NAFTA.”
Detroit Free Press reports:
Until now, automakers and auto executives have been reluctant to publicly speak out about the potential consequences of renegotiating or pulling out of North American Free Trade Agreement because Trump’s comments on the campaign trail were not official White House policy.
Putting American workers first
According to the statement, Trump’s goal is “to put American workers and businesses first when it comes to trade” with the goal of returning millions of jobs to America — even though many analysts and economists say America’s lost more manufacturing jobs to China and automation than to Mexico.
On Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors, Ford and the Auto Alliance — a lobbying organization for the industry — all either declined to comment or did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.
Automakers also have been racing in recent weeks to pull any plans they have for U.S. investments and job creation off the shelf and announce them in an effort to blunt criticism from Trump for investing in Mexico.
NAFTA has contributed to a decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs, but it has led to massive automotive industry investment in Mexico and the growth of a supplier network there.
Nearly every automaker — both foreign and domestic — has built new plants in Mexico in recent years. Mexico has surpassed Canada in annual vehicle production.
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said last week that a 35% border tariff could force the automaker to stop producing cars in Mexico.
“It’s possible that if economic tariffs are imposed … and are sufficiently large, it will make production of anything in Mexico uneconomical and we would have to withdraw,” Marchionne said. “It’s quite possible.”
Marchionne also added that the automotive industry needs clarity from the Trump administration on what its official trade policy and trade agreements will be.
“I think we will adjust whenever the rules get changed, if they get changed. We have no choice in this. We are not policy setters,” Marchionne said during a news conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “I am not sure exactly what the rules are. Let’s wait.”