Domestic automakers and suppliers have already expressed concerns that leaving the North American Free Trade Agreement could be detrimental to the industry. Numerous automotive trade groups have claimed that losing NAFTA would result in less efficient and more costly ways of doing business.
Hoping to steer Donald Trump away from the idea of abandoning the three-country accord, manufacturers, parts suppliers, and dealers have come together to form the “Driving American Jobs” coalition. The group’s primary goal is to prove that NAFTA has been beneficial to the participating countries, especially the United States. It also makes the claim that withdrawing from NAFTA would re-establish trade barriers, hurt the U.S. economy and cost jobs.
“We need you to tell your elected officials that you don’t change the game in the middle of a comeback. We’re winning with NAFTA,” urges the group’s website.
When Donald Trump took office, one of his first presidential acts was to rally domestic automakers for a series of meetings and promise to remove regulatory barriers. As the administration was a self-described ally to the car industry, the claim appeared genuine. There was some tough talk about foreign involvement but, for the most part, Trump appeared to be in domestic manufacturers’ corner.
As focus shifted toward the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, automakers had one request: to not impede cross-border trade. It was their primary concern leading up to this week’s talks.
Two days later and the issue has become a major sticking point; placing auto industry groups from Canada, Mexico, and the United States at odds with the current administration. As NAFTA talks began in Washington, D.C., automaker and parts groups from all three countries began outright pleading with U.S. negotiators to abandon their push for tighter rules of origin. Now they are formally opposing it.
Automakers and auto enthusiasts alike aren’t fond of the differing safety standards in Europe and the United States. Having to satisfy two different standards means increased costs for car companies that want to compete on a global scale and it also means that car enthusiasts on both continents are often deprived of desirable cars on sale in the other market. But according to Automotive News, lobbyists for automakers in the U.S. and Europe are hoping to use current negotiations over a free-trade agreement to harmonize safety standards and they are using academics to make their argument.