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Asia Minute: Ford’s Moves in India May Draw Heat from Trump’s Trade Policies

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The future of trade policy is one of the many questions about the next presidential administration. During his campaign, Donald Trump threatened US automakers with tariffs of up to 35% on vehicles made in Mexico. But that’s not changing the plans of one major US automaker in the Asia Pacific. HPR’s Bill Borman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

One of the keys to the future for the Ford Motor Company is the EcoSport SUV.  It’s billed as a “subcompact cross-over Sport Utility Vehicle”….and it’s proven very popular in several markets around the world…although it’s never been sold in the United States.

That’s going to change in a couple of years---but plans are for the EcoSports sold in the United States to be manufactured in India.  This is front-page news in India this week—where developments from the Los Angeles Auto Show are getting fairly wide coverage as the country tries to expand its vehicle production. 

The news has also underlined questions about whether the Trump Administration will try to put tariffs on US cars manufactured overseas and sold in the United States.  That’s a big question for the Asia Pacific—as automakers around the world have adopted a model of multiple plants across various regions….including a growing multinational presence in Thailand.

The usual approach is for companies to use those plants as export bases to markets that make sense because of considerations ranging from geography to the relative value of currencies.  Earlier this week, Ford CEO Mark Fields reaffirmed the automaker’s commitment to a cross-border strategy…saying the company will continue to create jobs in the United States as it expands its “global manufacturing footprint.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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