NEW YORK — The industry has been shaken this year by President Donald Trump's talk of modifying, or even doing away with, the North American Free Trade Agreement. John Bozzella, 55, CEO of the Association of Global Automakers, which represents foreign-owned automakers and suppliers, spoke about the U.S. trade climate with Special Correspondent Jim Henry in April on the sidelines of the NADA/J.D. Power Automotive Forum here.
Q: What must happen to make automotive manufacturing more attractive in the U.S.?
A: Tax reform could be a big part of that. International automakers have already invested more than $75 billion in U.S. manufacturing, so it's already a very strong business climate. But I think tax reform will drive more growth on top of that.
Is there a specific action that can be taken?
It's important to maintain relationships with our trading partners — to modernize relations but also to recognize how important that is for the U.S. market. We build a million more vehicles in this market than we did before NAFTA. Yet there's the view the production "went someplace."
Mexico has attracted investments because it has free-trade agreements with many other countries. Would U.S. automotive investment increase if the U.S. had free-trade agreements with more countries?
That's the way to think about it. Mexico has free-trade agreements that allow it to export north, south, east and west. That's a very powerful thing that helps encourage manufacturing in Mexico.