Trump meets major vehicle makers in push for jobs

US President Donald Trump started a meeting on Tuesday with the chief executives of the big three US vehicle makers as he looks to persuade car manufacturers to keep production within the country.
US President Donald Trump started a meeting on Tuesday with the chief executives of the big three US vehicle makers as he looks to persuade car manufacturers to keep production within the country.PHOTO: EPA

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump started a meeting on Tuesday with the chief executives of the big three US vehicle makers as he looks to persuade car manufacturers to keep production within the country.

"I want new plants to be built here for cars sold here!" Mr Trump said in a posting on Twitter shortly after 6am in Washington yesterday.

The meeting with the heads of Ford Motor, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors presents Detroit's vehicle makers with an opportunity to weigh in on major issues that the new administration plans to tackle in its earliest days, including trade, regulatory and tax reforms.

Ford chief executive Mark Fields plans to discuss corporate tax reform, the need for "data-driven regulations" and trade policy initiatives that address foreign currency manipulation, Ford spokesman Christin Baker said. GM chief executive Mary Barra and Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne also attended the meeting.

Apart from the meeting, Mr Trump yesterday signed two executive orders to advance the building of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, but said "we are going to renegotiate some of the terms".

Former president Barack Obama had rejected TransCanada's Keystone XL oil pipeline in November 2015 after environmentalists campaigned against the project for more than seven years. Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline had also faced opposition from activists protesting against plans to route the pipeline beneath a lake near a North Dakota Indian reservation, saying it poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American sites.

On Monday, Mr Trump met prominent US manufacturers, including Tesla Motors head Elon Musk, and said he would dramatically cut regulations and corporate taxes. But he warned that manufacturers would face tough penalties if they moved production out of the country.

The same day, the President ordered a hiring freeze for most federal agencies, and blocked foreign aid for organisations that perform or discuss abortion.

The across-the-board employment freeze for the federal government will halt hiring for all new and existing positions except those in national security, public safety and the military.

In the order, he said the directive was a stopgap way to control the growth of government until his budget director recommends a long-term plan to significantly reduce the federal workforce through attrition.

Mr Trump also reinstated a policy on Monday that originated in the Reagan era, prohibiting the granting of US foreign aid to health providers abroad who discuss abortion as a family planning option.

US law already prohibits the use of US taxpayer dollars for abortion services anywhere, including in countries where the procedure is legal. But Mr Trump's order freezes funding to non-governmental organisations in poor countries if they offer abortion counselling or advocate the right to seek abortion in their countries.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters yesterday that he has invited Mr Trump to address a joint session of Congress on Feb 28.

The address would be Mr Trump's first appearance before Congress and would be a chance for him to lay out his legislative plans.

NYTIMES, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Trump meets major vehicle makers in push for jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe