Auto Industry Campaign Aims to Steer Trump Away From Quitting Nafta

  • Carmakers, suppliers, dealers form coalition to lobby for pact
  • Group to run digital ads in states with large auto presence

Nafta Ministers Extend Negotiations Into 2018

Five groups representing automakers in the U.S. and around the world, along with suppliers and car dealers, have joined forces in a campaign to try to convince President Donald Trump that the North America Free Trade Agreement is worth saving.

With the Trump administration pushing to overhaul the pact that unites the U.S. with Canada and Mexico, the new coalition, Driving American Jobs, plans to campaign to keep Nafta’s auto provisions intact. The advertising campaign, estimated to cost more than $500,000, will run for four weeks, just as renegotiation of the trade agreement’s auto provisions heats up.

“Pulling out of Nafta would lead to a decrease in vehicle production, a decline in jobs and an increase in what our customers spend when buying a new vehicle," Jennifer Thomas, vice president of federal affairs at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement. "This would also have an impact on our abilities to export vehicles to foreign markets."

U.S. negotiators last week proposed requiring vehicles assembled in North America to get 85 percent of their parts from factories in the region, up from 62.5 percent today. At least 50 percent would have to come from the U.S. to qualify for duty-free status, under the U.S. proposal. The changes could reshape industry supply chains or push companies to pay tariffs instead of boosting regional parts sourcing.

The website for the coalition includes a form letter that supporters can send to the White House. It warns that U.S. proposals to change Nafta "could have the same impact on the U.S. auto industry as a complete withdrawal, which would be disastrous for the industry, its workers and the U.S. economy."

It’s also the first time that auto industry trade groups representing automakers from the U.S., Europe, Japan and South Korea have all joined together to advocate on a single issue, according a spokesman for the coalition.

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