Ford CEO Dismisses Campaign Criticism, Citing U.S. Growth

Ford (NYSE:F) CEO Mark Fields, emphasizing Ford’s investments in U.S. manufacturing, shrugged off criticism that has been lobbed at the automaker during the presidential primary races.

“I can’t speak to what’s being said on the campaign trail. Obviously, we have these trade agreements, and I think as we look at our business, we made a big commitment here to our facilities in the U.S. You’ve seen some of the numbers in terms of backing that up,” Fields said during a conference call with analysts.

Earlier this month, Ford again became a lightning rod on the campaign trail when it officially revealed plans to build a new $1.6 billion factory in Mexico, where the company is expected to build the Focus compact car and C-Max hybrid. Small cars are less profitable than trucks and SUVs, and several automakers have concentrated production in Mexico to reduce costs.

Donald Trump often targets U.S. companies that have outsourced jobs to other countries, and the Republican primary frontrunner has specifically cited Ford in his criticisms of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump has argued in favor of taxing imports to stem job losses.

“This transaction is an absolute disgrace,” Trump said in a statement following Ford’s April 5 announcement. “NAFTA has incentivized plants to move to Mexico, closing factories across the United States.”

At the time of its announcement, Ford noted that its investments in America over the past five years totaled $10.2 billion. Executives also stressed that Ford builds more cars in the country than any other manufacturers.

During Thursday’s earnings call, Fields said Ford has another $9 billion allocated for U.S. investments going forward.

“At the same time,” Fields said, Ford continues to evaluate its footprint and determine “what doesn’t make sense for our business.”

“I think we have a good plan going forward to support our growth, despite some of the political campaign chatter right now,” Fields added.