Fleet Management

Automakers Fear NAFTA Changes

May 26, 2017

By David Cullen

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Photo: Ford Motor Co.
Photo: Ford Motor Co.

U.S. automakers are pushing President Trump "not to make any changes to NAFTA that would jeopardize production ties with Canada and Mexico that have been built up over the last 25 years," according to a Politico.com ProTrade post.

Understandably, the car makers don’t want to mess with success. They are now "performing at levels that really haven't been seen in decades," said Charles Uthus, vice president for international policy at the American Automotive Policy Council, stated the Politico report.

AAPC represents the common public policy interests of its member companies: FCA US LLC (Fiat-Chrysler) Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company.  

Politico reported that Uthus credits NAFTA for much of that success and contends that hiking tariffs between the three NAFTA signatories would hurt the competitiveness of the North American region. The report also stated that parts manufacturers don’t want any changes to the agreement that would “"upset the supply chain."

The Big Three auto makers’ concern reflects the advantages it has reaped from operating in the common U.S.-Canada-Mexico market since the NAFTA agreement went into effective on January 1, 1994— over 23 years ago.

Perhaps in recognition of the inevitability of Trump pursuing some reforms of NAFTA, AAPC President Matt Blunt issued a statement on May 18 that seeks to avoid breaking eggs by whipping NAFTA into a tastier omelette. “NAFTA has helped to boost the global competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry sector and we support modernizing the agreement in ways that will further strengthen North America as a manufacturing powerhouse, stimulate economic growth and drive job creation,” he stated.

Blunt said that AAPC encourages administration “to seize this opportunity” to work with Canada and Mexico “to support strong and enforceable currency manipulation disciplines in trade agreements and encourage the global acceptance of vehicles built to U.S. auto safety standards.”

He added that such an update of NAFTA will increase the export of American vehicles and auto parts “and grow the number of high-quality and high-paying American jobs supported by such exports.”

Meanwhile, the new president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, whose footprint includes manufacturing operations in Mexico, recently stated that he doesn’t anticipate any major changes in NAFTA.

“We’re a global company, and globally we believe in free trade,” said Roger Nielsen during a May 18 media briefing. “And we’re prepared to engage everybody and anybody in discussions.”

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