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Industryweek 13947 Carlos Ghosn Renault G 0

Ghosn Sees 'America First' Agenda as Protecting Trade with Mexico

Dec. 16, 2016
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn: “I’m not very worried because what has been said by the president-elect of the U.S. is ‘America first,’ and American interests in Mexico are huge.”

Nissan Motor Co. (IW 1000/25) Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s America-first agenda should mean trade with Mexico, where the Japanese company is the biggest auto producer, will be protected.

“I’m not very worried because what has been said by the president-elect of the U.S. is ‘America first,’ and American interests in Mexico are huge,” Ghosn said at Nissan’s headquarter in Yokohama, Japan, on Friday. “Protecting American interests in a certain way means protecting trade with Mexico.”

Company executives across the world are looking for clarity on the policies Trump’s administration will adopt as he has said his agenda will be based on the principle of putting America first from “producing steel, building cars or curing disease.” Any curbs on trade could hurt automakers like Nissan that have spread globally, making, selling, shipping and assembling vehicles across continents.

The president-elect has spoken of imposing a 35% tariff on any vehicles Ford Motor Co. builds in Mexico and ships back to the U.S., a levy carmakers are concerned he’d apply industrywide. Ford has said it’s willing to work with Trump to keep jobs in the U.S. -- provided he puts the right policies in place.

After the Nov. 8 election, Trump phoned Executive Chairman Bill Ford to discuss the carmaker’s plan to move manufacturing of the Lincoln MKC sport utility vehicle to Mexico from a plant in Louisville, Ky., Ford CEO Mark Fields said earlier this month. The discussion helped convince Ford to keep building the Lincoln in the U.S.

While Trump didn’t single out Nissan, the automaker is growing in Mexico. It started building cars in the country 50 years ago and made 830,000 vehicles last year. Ghosn has made a deal with Daimler AG to jointly make Infiniti and Mercedes luxury cars from a new Mexico plant scheduled to begin production next year.

“For the moment nothing has happened, which means Nafta is still factual,” Ghosn said referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement. “The day it will be challenged we will see.”

By Ma Jie

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