1 of 7 | President Donald Trump, pictured with CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Sergio Marchionne, delivers remarks to automobile industry leaders during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2017. Pool Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 24 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump told CEOs of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler on Tuesday to expect an easing of environmental regulations on new vehicles.
Prior to an hour-long meeting at the White House with Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields, General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, Trump said: 'We want regulations, but we want regulations that mean something. I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it. But, it's [environmental regulation] out of control."
As he campaigned for president, Trump often complained that Detroit's Big Three automakers regularly build factories in Mexico and transfer jobs there, putting Americans out of work. On Tuesday, he made clear that he wants jobs in many industries to stay in the United States, telling the executives prior to their private discussion, "You're not being singled out."
Fields called the meeting a productive one, saying Trump "is very focused on policies that will grow investment and jobs here in America, which is what we talked about. I think as an industry we're excited about working together with the president and his administration on tax policies, on regulation, and on trade, to really create a renaissance in American manufacturing."
Barra called working with the president "a huge opportunity" to "improve the environment, improve safety and improve job creation."
The meeting came the day after leaders of U.S. manufacturing companies met with Trump; Fields was present at that meeting as well. It also came after Trump announced that the United States would pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiate terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, with Canada and Mexico.
Although none of the CEOs at Tuesday's meeting said the matter of free trade came up, and said that the discussions largely concerned incentives to keep manufacturing facilities in the United States, Fields commented afterward, "We've been very vocal both as an industry and as a company and we've repeatedly said that the mother of all trade barriers is currency manipulation, and TPP failed in meaningfully dealing with that. We appreciate the president's courage to walk away from a bad trade deal."
The Republican Party has long favored free trade and some GOP lawmakers have been critical of Trump's approach, but prior to Tuesday's meeting with the CEOs, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump looked forward "to hearing their ideas, on how we can work together to bring more jobs back to this industry in particular."
The meeting did not include representatives of other auto companies with U.S. factories, which include Nissan, Honda and BMW.