Coronavirus: Donald Trump says he’ll help auto industry 'at least a little bit'

President Donald Trump said his administration would help the U.S. auto industry amid pleas for help from parts manufacturers.

File photo (REUTERS)
File photo

“We’re watching the auto industry very much," Trump said Thursday on a call with state governors. “We’re going to be helping them out at least a little bit and they’ve sort of requested some help, and it wasn’t their fault what happened. So we’ll be taking care of the auto industry."

His comment was prompted by Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who said she had concerns about the finances of some auto suppliers.

The pledge of support came after the Motor And Equipment Manufacturers Association, a trade group for auto parts-makers, urged Republican and Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday to provide suppliers with relief to address what it said was a liquidity crisis facing small and large parts companies.

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In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top lawmakers, MEMA President Bill Long warned that auto manufacturers negatively affected by the virus could see global sales plummet.

“Such a decrease will impact the entire country and any comprehensive economic relief package must provide protection for our essential manufacturing operations," Long said in the letter.

He asked lawmakers to provide temporary relief from certain tariffs through the remainder of 2020, saying doing so would give companies an immediate cash boost. The group also urged lawmakers to permit manufacturers to access emergency financial grants for distressed companies and a separate grant program to encourage the relocation of research, development and production work on advanced technologies to the U.S.

On Tuesday, automaker and dealer trade groups urged Trump to issue national guidance deeming auto repair facilities as essential businesses that can remain open even as most businesses shutter under orders from states and city officials.

Automakers, however, have stopped short of asking the Trump administration for specific financial relief for car manufacturers, John Bozzella, president of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said in a Wednesday interview. He said the group supports broader economic stimulus measures being developed by lawmakers and administration officials.

“What we are focused on right now and are very supportive of are broad economic measures that keep the economy on track as we continue to grapple with a very, very rapidly evolving situation," Bozzella said, whose group represents nearly every major carmaker.

First Published Date: 20 Mar 2020, 10:36 AM IST
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