Trump threatens fresh tariffs in wake of GM plant closures

01 December, 2018, 05:14 | Author: Kathy Ellis
  • Trump tests presidential limits by threat to General Motors

When news emerged late Sunday that the company was planning to shut down its flagship Canadian plant in Oshawa, Ont., putting more than 2,500 people out of work, social media set its sights on Trump's "America First" strategy for bringing manufacturing jobs back to USA soil.

His tweets cited his disappointment with GM CEO Mary Barra and also referred to the 2008 government bailout of the U.S. vehicle industry.

President Donald Trump is saying he's "very disappointed" in General Motors closing plants - and he says the White House is "looking at cutting all subsidies" for the auto giant.

"The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get!" the president tweeted on Tuesday, referring to the government bailout of the automaker a decade ago.

A 25-per-cent duty on imported light trucks was applied in the 1960s by President Lyndon Johnson in retaliation to West German tariffs on US poultry.

The issue is particularly salient this week as Trump prepares to meet with China's Xi Jinping on the sidelines of this weekend's Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Not quite. Since Trump took office, the U.S. Department of Labor reports, companies have added just over 400,000 manufacturing jobs - tiny compared with 150 million non-farm positions.

Trump's plan to bring China to heel through the imposition of punishing tariffs isn't going well either.

Numerous workers who will lose jobs if the plants close could transfer to another GM factory where production is being increased, spokesman Patrick Morrissey said.

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Trump and congressional Republicans have touted the tax cuts as a boost to growth and jobs. Both expressed their frustration regarding GM's decision that will impact the lives of more than 14,000 of workers in North America.

Trump also tweeted about the situation Wednesday, suggesting the USA should consider imposing tariffs on imported cars.

In Canada, workers returned to the assembly line at General Motors' Oshawa, Ontario, plant on Tuesday, as their union president met with Trudeau and said he was ready for "mass actions" at GM facilities.

Jawboning aside, Trump was unable to stop job losses at a Carrier Corp. air-conditioning plant in Indianapolis.

GM has received about $333.5 million in federal spending in the past 12 months, according to a US government website that tracks federal expenditures. And he announced the study of executive powers that could allow him to punish GM on his own - without congressional approval, which might be hard to acquire.

The angry response to GM's decision is coming from multiple top Trump officials.

"We appreciate the actions this administration has taken on behalf of industry to improve the overall competitiveness of USA manufacturing", the company said.

The reductions could amount to as much as 8 per cent of GM's global workforce of 180,000 employees.

These moves drew the ire of the president, who said, "We have a lot of pressure on them" to maintain operations in places like Lordstown, Ohio - a state key to his re-election.

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