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Commentary

The Phony Trump-Ford War

Nov 18, 2016

Good morning.

The battle between President-elect Trump and the Ford Motor Co. is continuing post-election, and provides a glimpse into what big business might expect from a Trump administration.

At 9 p.m. last night, Trump posted a notice on his Twitter account saying Ford Chairman Bill Ford had just told him the company “will be keeping its Lincoln plant in Kentucky – no Mexico.” He later wrote in a second post “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln Plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great state of Kentucky for their confidence in me!”

But the company said it never had any plans to shut the Kentucky plant, and likely could not do so under its United Auto Workers contract. At issue, instead, was the company’s plan to move production of one car, the MKC sport utility vehicle, to Mexico and replace it with expanded production of the Ford Escape. It will now continue to manufacture the MKC in Kentucky.

Ford, clearly not eager to extend its fight with the incoming president, issued a diplomatic statement saying: “We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S. competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States.”

Meanwhile, leaders of Pacific Rim countries – including President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping - are gathering in Peru this morning to ponder the future of trade arrangements. The U.S. spent five years working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an trade arrangement that excludes China. But President-elect Trump has branded the deal a “disaster.” Now President Xi is pushing an alternative, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which excludes the U.S.. In related news, Vietnam said yesterday it would shelve ratifying TPP.

At the risk of laboring the point, if the U.S. decides to withdraw from global trade, then it will simply hand leadership of the issue to Beijing. Now, will that give U.S. citizens a better deal in the long run, or a worse one?

Don't let the question spoil your weekend.

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