National Post

Auto industry launches NAFTA ad campaign

‘We’re winning’ with pact, Trump told

- David Shepards on

WASHINGTON• Automakers, suppliers and auto dealers launched a new coalition Tuesday to urge U.S. President Donald Trump not to withdraw from NAFTA.

Major carmakers including General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG, Hyundai Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co. are part of the coalition dubbed “Driving American Jobs.” The group is behind an advertisin­g campaign to convince the White House and voters that NAFTA has been crucial in boosting U.S. auto production and jobs.

Trump has threatened to withdraw from the trade agreement among the U.S ., Canada and Mexico, which is heavily utilized by automakers that have production and supply chains spread across the three countries.

In the most recent round of talk store negotiate NAFTA last week, Trump proposed changes to the rules of origin for autos, used to determine how much of a vehicle is made in a certain place. The proposed changes were viewed as untenable for automakers, as well as Mexico and Canada.

The auto industry joins the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other large business groups that have become more vocal in recent weeks about Trump’s efforts to change the 23- year- old accord, saying the changes would hurt American jobs.

The auto coalition, which includes the Motor & Equip- ment Manufactur­ers Associatio­n and American Internatio­nal Automobile Dealers Associatio­n, said ending NAFTA, which underpins US$ 1.2 trillion in annual trade between the three countries, would put U. S. auto sector jobs at risk.

They pointed to US$ 9.5 billion in new investment­s announced this year by the auto and auto parts sector and feature the personal stories of auto sector employees throughout America — from plant workers to auto dealership personnel.

“We need you to tell your elected officials that you don’t change the game in the middle of a comeback. We’re winning with NAFTA,” the group said on its website.

The Chamber of Commerce accused the Trump administra­tion of trying to sabotage the talks with “poison pill proposals,” including demands for more favourable treatment for the U. S. side on car production, and a “sunset clause” to force regular re- negotiatio­ns. The campaign comes amid rising concern that the Trump administra­tion could opt early next year to withdraw after giving six months’ notice, a move that could expose automakers who are building trucks in Mexico to high tariffs and impose new tariffs on parts and cars made throughout North America.

Trump told the Fox Business Network in an interview that aired Sunday he thinks the deal will “probably” be renegotiat­ed, but said he will withdraw if it is not fair. “We can’t allow the world to look at us as a whipping post. Not going to happen anymore,” he said.

Under NAFTA, at least 62.5 per cent of the material in a car or light truck made in the region must be from North America to be able to enter the marketplac­e tarifffree. The Trump administra­tion has proposed raising the amount of NAFTA content in autos to 85 per cent and securing 50 per cent of the total for the United States.

On Tuesday, GM chief financial officer Chuck Stevens said the automaker sees “some risks” in the NAFTA negotiatio­ns. “That’s why we’re so heavily engaged to assure that the outcome is beneficial” to the industry.

Separately, Fiat Chrysler Automobile­s NV c hi e f executive Sergio Marchionne said the company has designed its future truck production strategy so that trucks currently made in Mexico could be made in the U.S. if NAFTA is scuttled.


 ?? PAUL SANCYA / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES ?? A Chrysler 200 on the assembly line in Michigan.
PAUL SANCYA / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES A Chrysler 200 on the assembly line in Michigan.

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