US Vice President Mike Pence met with leaders from Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earlier in the week to discuss the ongoing renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Reuters reports. President Donald Trump has expressed a desire to enact more rules on goods imported to the United States, which the US automotive industry, with its sizable manufacturing bases in Mexico and Canada, have opposed.
An example is the proposed requirement that 85% of a vehicle’s parts content come from North America (up from 62.5%), with 50% from the United States. The VP of Federal Affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Jennifer Thomas, in October called the new NAFTA proposal “onerous” and “unprecedented,” and it was ultimately rejected by Canada and Mexico.
After the meeting, American Automotive Policy Council President Matt Blunt said the automakers “view the modernization of NAFTA as an important opportunity to update the 23-year-old agreement and set the stage for an expansion of U.S. auto exports.” He said they appreciated “the opportunity to directly address the industry’s concerns with the administration’s rule of origin proposal.”
Ford President of Global Operations Joe Hinrichs was scheduled to attend the meeting with Vice President Pence, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. GM and FCA had arranged to send their CEOs: Mary Barra and Sergio Marchionne, respectively.
Ford has a bit less to lose than its competitors should a new, more nationalist NAFTA emerge (or should the US exit the trade deal altogether) as the automaker currently builds more of its North American products in the US than General Motors or Fiat Chrysler do.