As expected, President Donald J. Trump met with top executives from FCA, Ford, and General Motors this morning as part of a larger push to generate jobs in America. "I want new plants to be built here for cars sold here!", Trump said in a tweet ahead of the meeting. Not everything said in the meeting was made public, but the President later tweeted that he had a "Great meeting with automobile industry leaders." FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, Ford chief Mark Fields, and GM's Mary Barra all echoed the positive vibes after the meeting.
In a statement, Barra called the discussion "very constructive and wide-ranging," adding that it focused on "policies that support a strong and competitive economy and auto industry," and "that supports the environment and safety." That's noteworthy, because Trump is reported to have said "I am to a large extent an environmentalist. I believe in it, but it's out of control."
Fields, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said, "We're excited about working together with the president and his administration on tax policies, on regulation and on trade to really create a renaissance in American manufacturing." The Ford CEO was specifically talking about Trump's withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "We've repeatedly said that the mother of all trade barriers is currency manipulation, and TPP failed in meaningfully dealing with that, and we appreciate the president's courage to walk away from a bad trade deal," he said.
Marchionne focused on American manufacturing in his statement after the meeting. "I appreciate the President's focus on making the US a great place to do business. We look forward to working with President Trump and members of Congress to strengthen American manufacturing."
Perhaps equally as interesting as what was said and who was invited are what wasn't said and who wasn't invited. Trump has been very vocal about his distaste for US automakers' plants in Mexico, but no mention was made of the North American Free Trade Agreement by Trump or any of the Detroit CEOs after the meeting. We also have to wonder if Trump plans to meet with representatives from German, Japanese, and Korean automakers that have made massive investments into American plants and produce a large number of cars in this country.