Trump raises prospect of import vehicle tariff after GM cutback plan

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

In response to GM's announcement on Monday that it would close five plants (four in the US and one in Canada) and lay off 14,000 employees (about 10,000 in the U.S.) as part of a major company restructure, Trump took it to Twitter on Tuesday and threatened to cut government subsidies for GM if it doesn't keep those jobs.

The president said that he was "very tough" with GM CEO Mary Barra when speaking with her after the announcement.

Trump said it was "highly unlikely" he'll accept China's request to postpone the tariff hike, which will take effect on January 1, 2019. "So I don't know exactly how they would do that".

The Twitter account of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin amplified a message from an anonymous account called "The_Trump_Train" on Wednesday that demanded GM "pay back the $11.2 billion bailout that was funded by the American taxpayer". "The booming!" he tweeted.

The company is placing a substantial bet on a future dominated by three high-tech trends that have been upending the world of the internal-combustion engine: electric vehicles, mobility services like ride-hailing apps, and cars and trucks that are capable of driving themselves. "We are now looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including for electric cars".

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State and local governments are likely to offer tax breaks and other incentives to try to get GM to change its mind about the closings, said Kristen Dziczek, of the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I'm not about to hang crepe and say it's going away. John Thune, R-S.C., told reporters. They could go out to dinner or the movies.

If Trump were able to push through a legislative repeal of the credit, it could actually end up giving GM a better competitive position, according to Jeremy Acevedo, an analyst with auto market researcher Edmunds. The bill is reactionary in a way that will do nothing to sway GM, Wyndham said. But while the U.S., Canada and Mexico are set to sign an updated trade deal on Friday, negotiations with China have shown little progress.

The Republican president on Tuesday escalated his attacks on GM's plan to cut 15,000 jobs and mothball five North American factories, including four in the United States. The company has also promised to add technical and engineering personnel to support the development of electric and autonomous vehicles.

In a pair of Wednesday tweets, the president pointed to the 25% levies that are placed on pickup-truck imports into the USA, and said this "chicken tax" was the reason why the US small truck business is doing well. Dean Heller, R-Nev., where Tesla operates a large battery factory. Heller, a Republican, lost his re-election bid this month to Democrat Jacky Rosen. But companies are widely expected to pass along the cost of higher tariffs to American consumers. It could also have a profound and immediate impact on the U.S. economy, as it could drive up the cost of automobiles for a huge segment of auto buyers, forcing Americans to rethink major purchases that in the past have helped the economy grow. GM's actions would be the biggest restructuring for the carmaker since its bankruptcy a decade ago when they were bailed out by the government.

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