WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Major carmakers, suppliers and car dealers launched a new coalition to urge US President Donald Trump not to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Car trade associations representing 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 the NAFTA pact has been crucial in boosting US automotive sector production and jobs.
Mr Trump has threatened to withdraw from the trade agreement among the United States, Canada and Mexico, which is heavily utilised by carmakers that have production and supply chains spread across the three countries.
In the most recent round of talks to renegotiate NAFTA last week, Mr Trump proposed changes to the rules of origin for cars, which are used to determine how much of a vehicle is made in a certain place. The proposed rules were viewed as untenable for carmakers, as well as Mexico and Canada.
The car industry joins the US Chamber of Commerce and other large business groups that have become more vocal in recent weeks about Mr Trump’s efforts to change the 23-year-old accord, saying the changes would hurt American jobs.
The coalition, which includes the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association and American International Automobile Dealers Association, said ending NAFTA, which underpins $1.2 trillion in annual trade between the three countries, would put US auto sector jobs at risk.
They pointed to $9.5 billion in new investments announced this year by the car and car parts sector and feature the personal stories of car sector employees throughout America – from plant workers to car 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 US side on car production, and a “sunset clause” to force regular negotiations.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said earlier this month the Trump administration was focused on trying to get an agreement that was fair but said he had “seen no indication that our partners are willing to make any changes that will result in a rebalancing and a reduction in these huge trade deficits”.