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In late May, President Trump said the U.S. would impose a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods until the country steps up its efforts to combat illegal immigration across the southern border. Trump said the tariffs would take effect on June 10 and could rise as high as 25 percent by October if no progress is made.
Barra told Reuters that the exact impact of the tariffs is “really hard to tell without understanding what the rules are going to be and the exclusions around it.” GM manufactures some of its vehicles in Mexico.
GM shares fell Wednesday and have experienced volatility since Trump’s initial announcement and his remarks that followed. On Wednesday, President Trump called on Mexico to “step up” to prevent looming tariffs, his remarks come as one top White House trade advisor suggested the planned duties on the country may not take effect on Monday as scheduled.
“If they don’t, tariffs will go on and if they go high, the companies are going to move back into the United States,” Trump said during a press conference with Ireland’s prime minister.
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While Barra declined to speculate on a possible impact from the Mexico tariffs, she told lawmakers that they would have a significant effect, Reuters reported, citing congressional aides with knowledge of the matter.
Barra also defended GM’s plan to sell a facility in Lordstown, Ohio, to electric car startup Workhorse. The planned deal drew criticism in recent days amid concerns about Workhorse’s financial status and ability to close the transaction.
“We remain thinking it’s a strong possibility and think people should focus on opportunity and maybe every now and then a little optimism wouldn’t hurt anyone,” Barra said.
GM announced late last year that it would cut roughly 15,000 jobs and close several facilities in North America as part of a plan to cut costs and invest in new technologies. Trump and local lawmakers have pressured GM to stay active in Ohio.