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Ford Has a Few Pointers for Trump as NAFTA Negotiations Loom

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Ford Motor Company thinks it has the answers for the impending renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, believes the key to an updated NAFTA includes protections against currency manipulation and the standardization of product regulation between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Of course, Hinrichs is just one voice of many. Despite his initial threat of NAFTA’s abolishment failing to pan out, President Trump has maintained a hardline stance — stating he will negotiate a better deal for the U.S. (or pull out if he can’t). Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown has urged for transparency throughout the process while echoing some of Trump’s campaign promises to stick up for American jobs by not showing favoritism or allowing industries to play against each other.

By contrast, Hinrichs’ proposals are specifically focused on streamlining the auto industry and avoiding long-standing complications associated with financial witchcraft. 

Speaking to Automotive News, Hinrichs said he would like to see his ideas make it into the prospective overhaul of NAFTA and serve as a blueprint for future trade deals. “We can, as a country and region, provide some good templates and examples for the future of trade agreements beyond the NAFTA region,” he explained. “I think, in the end, the people involved know what’s at stake here and we’ll clearly end up somewhere that will make sense for the U.S. and the industry.”

“We don’t know how it will play out,” Hinrichs said. “It’s our belief — and I think the industry’s belief — that the integration of the North American auto business has certainly served the North American continent well relative to its competitiveness vs. the rest of the world, and that’s important for all of us to remember.”

While Ford has been fairly vocal about currency manipulation in regard to the defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership, it doesn’t seem to be worried about it within North America. The provisions in NAFTA to protect against it really only serves to set a good example for more global trade agreements.

“Traditionally we don’t see the Canadian dollar or Mexico peso being manipulated by the government, but we believe trade agreements should incorporate mechanisms around currency manipulation and the like,” Hinrichs explained.

He didn’t say it, but we all know which Far East People’s Republic the industry is most concerned with in respect to economic voodoo. As for the amalgamation of vehicle standards, that’s as clear as it gets. Automakers don’t want to waste time and money adhering to differing safety and build standards between countries.

General Motors, like Ford, would also like to see the deal result in smoother sailing for manufacturers. “We want a balanced playing field,” said CFO Chuck Stevens last week. GM also supports simplifying local content and origination rules. However, if the deal changes in a matter that increases the cost of imported items, Stevens said he’s “hopeful there would be a period of transition so we can adjust to it.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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