U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has threatened automakers with a border tax on vehicles built in Mexico and brought into the United States — and it now appears Canada may not be immune from a possible tariff.
Asked Friday during a conference call if an auto border tax could hit Canada, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said: "When a company that's in the U.S. moves to a place, whether it's Canada or Mexico, or any other country seeking to put U.S. workers at a disadvantage," then the incoming U.S. president "is going to do everything he can to deter that."
"It's not so much a target at one particular country or one particular industry," Spicer said, according to a Bloomberg report.
In the weeks since Trump's election, many Canadian politicians and executives have sought to stress how integrated the Canada-U.S. auto sector is, with parts going back and forth across the border. Some have also pointed out that a tariff on vehicles could increase the prices U.S. consumers would have to pay.
During recent contract negotiations with the Unifor union, the Detroit Big 3 automakers — GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler — all committed to investments in their Canadian operations. Adding in plans by Honda announced this week for almost $500 million in investment at its Alliston, Ont., production facilities, automakers have said over the past four months that they will invest about $2 billion to Canada.
Ahead of his inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, Trump has taken to Twitter to threaten both General Motors and Toyota over plans to build small cars in Mexico.
- Donald Trump threatens Toyota with tax on imports of Mexican-made vehicles
- Ford to cancel planned $1.6 billion factory in Mexico
The Toyota Corolla production going to Mexico is actually being shifted south from a plant in Cambridge, Ont.
Conversely, Trump has applauded Ford for scrubbing plans to build a plant in Mexico and announcing expansion of a Michigan plant. Fiat Chrysler also recently said it plans to create 2,000 jobs in the U.S. as it invests in two plants in the Midwest.
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne also said the company might end Mexican production if tariffs imposed on vehicles made in Mexico for the U.S. market are too high.