Published: Sat, January 07, 2017
Business | By Patricia Jimenez

Mexican Ford plant workers blame Trump for dashed dreams

Trump's tweet incorrectly stated the location of Toyota's new Mexican plant - it's Guanajuato, not Baja - but he's correct in saying that Toyota has plans to build the Corolla in Mexico. "NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax", Trump said on Twitter on Thursday.

A General Motors spokesperson confirmed to Fox News that the company imported 8,400 Cruze sedans past year to supplement USA production during the launch of the latest model, something it announced at the time, but insisted that it hasn't brought any more in since the fall. He has slammed USA automakers, including Ford which this week scrapped a planned $1.6 billion Mexico plant.

Trump's thinking is that a tariff would force automakers like Ford to build more cars in the United States again.

The company fired back quickly that "production volume or employment in the US will not decrease as a result of our new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico announced in April 2015".

Instead, Ford said it will invest about $700 million in a MI factory that will build high-tech autonomous and electric vehicles. His exact words are: "Make in United States of America or pay big border tax!". It exports roughly half of its output to the United States, where it also has production plants. A reporter had asked Toyoda about it in the wake of Ford's recent decision to deep-six a $1.6 billion Mexican plant following similar criticism by Trump. "Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump Administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry".

Trump's Tweet targeted Toyota Motors for its plans to expand its manufacturing base in Mexico.

While Japan's largest automaker is planning to build a Corolla plant in Mexico, it's slated for Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato.

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Trump's attacks on the auto industry are in keeping with his pledges to revive USA manufacturing that has steadily migrated to countries with cheaper labour for decades.

Donald Trump had said during the campaign that the tax could be as high as 35%.

Economic frictions between Japan and the USA reached a peak in the 1980s, tensions that were eventually smoothed over by the Japanese side through voluntary export restrictions and construction of manufacturing plants in America.

Mexican facilities of precision motor maker Nidec can redirect their output to South America, Chairman and President Shigenobu Nagamori said Friday, adding that the company "can also export to the USA from China and Europe".

Kishimoto noted that Toyota's exposure to Mexico was limited, adding that even an "extreme case" tariff of 20% would hit the carmaker's operating profit by about 6%.

The Guanajuato plant will build Corollas and have an annual capacity of 200,000 when it comes online in 2019, shifting production of the small auto from Canada, not the U.S. But Nissan and Renault SA CEO Carlos Ghosn told Reuters he was watching the incoming Trump administration closely and would respond to whatever policies it adopts.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Toyota is an "important corporate citizen" of the USA, one which has invested $21 billion in the US over the past six decades.

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