Trump slams ‘tax free’ import of Chevy car from Mexico
President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed General Motors for selling some Mexican-made cars in the US on the same day he picked a Reagan-era protectionist as his trade envoy.
Taking to his preferred communication platform, Twitter, Trump declared that “General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in USA or pay big border tax!”
GM emphasized that the vast majority of its Cruze cars sold in the US are made in Ohio, with just a small percentage imported from a plant near Texas.
“All Chevrolet Cruze sedans sold in the US are built in GM’s assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio,” the auto giant said. “GM builds the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback for global markets in Mexico, with a small number sold in the US.”
GM has several industrial sites in Mexico, including three assembly plants, in Silao, San Luis Potosi and the Ramos Arzipe near the Texas border, which produces the Cruze hatchback, which sells for $17,000.
Of 190,000 Cruze cars sold in the US, only 4,500 were hatchbacks made in Meico, said a GM spokesman.
The back-and-forth marks the latest instance in which Trump has launched attacks via Twitter on big US multinationals.
Trump vowed on the campaign trail to impose a 35 percent import duty on cars produced in Mexico, and he has also pledged to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
Trump charged that NAFTA and other trade agreements were responsible for the loss of millions of American manufacturing jobs. NAFTA permits cars to be sold duty-free within the US, Canada and Mexico if they are at 65 percent made in the bloc.
Trump announced earlier Tuesday his nomination of lawyer Robert Lighthizer as US trade representative, saying he “will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.
Leading business lobbies such as the Business Roundtable have cautioned that a rise of protectionism could damage US industries.
Last month, Caterpillar chief executive Doug Oberhelman said his companies and others would be hurt if other countries enacted tariffs in response to a US crackdown. Caterpillar, for example, employs thousands at US plants that derive most of their business from export markets.