Donald Trump

Trump offers carrot and stick to US automakers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 2:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 2:29am

US president Donald Trump offered auto executives the carrot and the stick on Tuesday, promising to reduce “out of control” environmental regulation while threatening tariffs on those that build cars abroad.

In a boardroom-style meeting with General Motors chief executive officer Mary Barra, Ford head Mark Fields and Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne , Trump said he wanted “regulation that means something” and that companies looking to build new factories in the US would find his administration “hospitable”.

“They can’t get their environmental permit over something that nobody ever heard of before,” Trump said. “I am to a large extent an environmentalist, I believe in it, but it’s out of control.”

Trump has attacked all the major car companies over plans to import vehicles, particularly from Mexico, for sale in the US. Ahead of Detroit’s annual auto show earlier this month, Trump singled out GM.

“General Motors is sending Mexican-made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in USA or pay big border tax!” Trump warned via Twitter.

“We have a very big push on to have auto plants and other plants, many other plants, you’re not being singled out, Mary, believe me” – he said, indicating Barra – “but to have a lot of plants a lot of different items built in the United States. It’s happening, it’s happening big league. We had Whirlpool up yesterday.

“You’re going to find us to be from very inhospitable to extremely hospitable,” Trump said.

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As soon as he was inaugurated on Friday, Trump ordered the heads of every executive-branch department and agency to stop sending new regulations to the Federal Register . On Monday, Trump announced a hiring freeze, drawing the ire of union leaders.

Private industry remains friendly to Trump: Barra attended his inauguration, and Fields praised the president for withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a complex multilateral trade deal between 12 nations including the US.

Industry lobbying group the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers sent Trump a letter asking him to ease regulations from the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Alliance represents car companies including GM, Ford and Volkswagen, which is currently on the hook for tens of billions in fines after its emissions-cheating software became an international scandal.