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Global Value Chains, Local Economic Values: The Automobile Industry’s Role in Trade and Investment

By Manny Manriquez, General Director

The auto industry has faced profound changes over the past several decades. In the United States, the distinctions between “domestic” and “foreign” producers no longer apply, as international-brand automakers now have a vast U.S. manufacturing presence. All of the companies that make up the current U.S. auto industry are global in nature and are facing a fundamental paradigm shift as automotive innovation moves us toward new forms of mobility that will redefine the very nature of road transportation.

As Japanese-brand automakers contemplate the future of the global auto industry, they also remain committed to their strong and meaningful ties with communities across the United States, cultivated through a nearly four decades-long history of manufacturing here in America.

This commitment is strongest when automakers can operate in a predictable business environment that enables effective leveraging of America’s strengths, especially technological innovation. Tariffs and uncertainty in the trading system are headwinds that hamper the U.S. auto industry’s ability to lead in the development of future vehicle technologies during this pivotal time. We’re also concerned about negative impacts on vehicle prices and auto industry jobs, including dealerships, as well as on the broader U.S. economy.

JAMA members are integral members of the U.S. auto industry. We strengthen the U.S. economy and manufacturing base—and we intend to continue doing so. We are concerned, however, that restrictive trade measures such as tariffs will hamper the global competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry and result in lost opportunities for U.S. leadership in this arena. We need to find a path forward that strengthens rather than restricts the future of our industry so that for decades to come, we can focus on offering vehicles for our American consumers that are fun to drive and safer than ever before.

*Adapted from remarks given at the March 26, 2019 event “Global Value Chains, Local Economic Values: The Automobile Industry’s Role in Trade and Investment” hosted by the Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT) and the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS)

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