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Trump tells automakers he'll ease environmental regulations

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 - 23:53

[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump told chief executives of the three biggest US automakers that environmental regulations are "out of control" and promised he would remove obstacles for manufacturers and oil companies.

Leaders of Ford Motor Co, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and General Motors Co met Mr Trump at the White House, the most recent in a series of meetings this week aimed at bolstering the US manufacturing sector. The president reiterated his desire to reduce regulations, which may indicate a willingness to scale back federal fuel-economy demands.

"I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist," Mr Trump told the auto executives. "I believe in it. But, it's out of control." Mr Trump's meeting with Ford CEO Mark Fields, GM CEO Mary Barra and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne occurred a day after he signed a memorandum withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, claiming the pact would hurt workers. He has pledged to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

Mr Fields, who also met with Mr Trump on Monday as part of a group of manufacturing executives, returned to the White House on Tuesday for the meeting with automakers.

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"We have a very big push on to have auto plants, and other plants," Mr Trump told the auto executives. "We're going to make the process much more simple for the oil companies and everybody else that wants to do business in the United States."  The meeting presents Detroit's automakers with a key opportunity to weigh in on major issues the administration plans to tackle in its earliest days, including trade, regulatory and tax reforms. Mr Fields planned to discuss corporate tax reform, the need for "data-driven regulations" and trade policy initiatives that address foreign currency manipulation, Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said.

"I want new plants to be built here for cars sold here!" Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday before the meeting with automakers.

The last new vehicle assembly plant GM, Ford or Fiat Chrysler built in the US was GM's Lansing Delta Township, opened in 2006. It builds Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave SUVs.

Mr Trump's meeting on Monday with prominent American manufacturers included Elon Musk, the head of Tesla Motors Inc. Mr Trump said then he'd dramatically cut regulations and corporate taxes. But the president warned that manufacturers would face tough penalties if they move production outside the country.

"We think we can cut regulations by 75 per cent. Maybe more," Mr Trump said on Monday. "When you want to expand your plant, or when Mark wants to come in and build a big massive plant, or when Dell wants to come in and do something monstrous and special - you're going to have your approvals really fast." After the meeting, Mr Fields said he was confident Mr Trump was "very serious on making sure the United States economy is going to be strong and have policies - on tax, regulatory or trade - to drive that." Mr Trump has openly agitated for US automakers to keep jobs in the US and cancel plans to build plants abroad.

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