Major automakers, suppliers and auto dealers on Tuesday launched a new coalition to urge US President Donald Trump not to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Auto 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.
Trump has threatened to withdraw from the trade agreement among the US, 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 talks to renegotiate the NAFTA last week, Trump proposed changes to the rules of origin for autos, which are used to determine how much of a vehicle is made in a certain place. The proposed rules were viewed as untenable for automakers, as well as Mexico and Canada.
The auto industry joins the US 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 US jobs.
The auto coalition, which includes the Motor & Equipment 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 US 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 the US — 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 Web site.
The Chamber of Commerce accused the Trump administration of trying to sabotage the talks with “poison pill proposals,” including demands for more favorable treatment for the US side on car production and a “sunset clause” to force regular 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 on Sunday he thinks the deal would “probably” be renegotiated, but said he would 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.
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