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Ford CEO warns about Trump's 35% car tariff

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 15/11/2016 Brent Snavely

Ford Motors CEO Mark Fields said Tuesday that a 35% tariff on cars and trucks imported from Mexico — an idea promoted by President-elect Donald Trump — would have a "huge impact" on the entire U.S. economy.

Fields, who delivered the keynote speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Tuesday morning, spoke about Donald Trump for the first time in public since the businessman was elected to become the next president.

On the campaign trail Trump frequently criticized Ford for deciding to move the production of small cars from the U.S. to Mexico, leading to a feud between the candidate and the automaker. Trump also has promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and has talked about imposing a 35% tariff on cars made in Mexico. 

"A tariff like that would be imposed on the entire auto sector, and that could have a huge impact on the U.S. economy," Fields said.

In September, Fields appeared on CNN to say no jobs would be lost in the U.S. as it moves production of the Ford Focus and C-Max hybrids to Mexico.

Experts also say a punitive tariff imposed on a single country would violate the rules of the World Trade Organization, a global body of 164 countries the U.S. joined in 1995.

Fields said Ford sent Trump a congratulatory letter after he was elected. Ford CEO Mark Fields is warning about negative effects of car tariffs© Bryan Thomas Ford CEO Mark Fields is warning about negative effects of car tariffs

"We have had conversations with the transition team. I’ve sent a congratulatory letter to the president elect, and we look forward to working with a new administration and the entire newly elected Congress," Fields said.

Still, Fields emphasized that Ford is a global company and believes in free trade. Trump, in contrast, has said he will try to renegotiate NAFTA or pull the U.S. out of the three-nation trade agreement. Trump also oppresses the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement the U.S. signed earlier this year but has not been approved by Congress.

Ford was against the Trans-Pacific Partnership because the automaker said it lacked adequate currency manipulation rules. Fields suggested today that that is one area that the automaker and Trump could work together.

"I continue to be convinced that the right polices will prevail, because we all share the same objective, which is a healthy and vibrant U.S. economy," Fields said.

On Monday, Ford revealed a new EcoSport subcompact SUV that it has sold around the world since 2003 but never in the U.S. Ford plans to import the EcoSport into the U.S. from Chennai, India.


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