General Motors chief executive Mary Barra will be meeting with President Trump as well as several White House officials on Thursday to review several issues facing the automotive industry, from the trade war with China and ongoing union contract discussions to revising fuel efficiency standards, three people briefed on the upcoming meeting said.
While Trump himself will only be available for part of the meeting due to the ongoing Hurricane Dorian emergency, his recent criticisms levied against the U.S. automotive company have caught the attention of GM brass.
On Friday, Trump tweeted that GM “was once the Giant of Detroit, (and) is now one of the smallest auto manufacturers there.”
Despite repeated U.S. automotive industry setbacks over the past several decades, GM is still the biggest automaker in the country in terms of sales, but has fallen behind Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler lately in employing union-backed American workers.
The timing of Thursday’s meeting comes just one week after China revealed it would be imposing a 25 percent automobile tariff later this year on all American cars that enter the country as the U.S. continues an ongoing trade war with China.
Although GM hasn’t relocated any factories or facilities to China, the automotive company does do quite a bit of business there, having sold 3.6 million cars in China last year alone.
GM sold only 3 million vehicles in the U.S. within the same time frame.
The auto unions have been in talks with GM which announced the shut down of its Detroit factory — a development that has not sat well with Trump and will likely be on Thursday’s agenda. In total, GM is closing four plants in the U.S., in Maryland, Ohio and Michigan.
The automaker is currently in talks with the United Auto Workers union as a Sept. 14 contract expiration looms.
Meanwhile, Thursday’s meeting will also touch upon Trump’s efforts to reverse fuel efficiency regulations put in place by former President Obama such as lowering gas prices and changing market conditions that have changed the landscape for both automotive consumers and makers alike.
Just last month, Trump called executives at GM and Ford “foolish” for not supporting his plans to repeal said Obama-era regulations.
Both GM and the White House declined to comment Wednesday on Thursday’s upcoming meeting.