Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that General Motors’ decision to close several production facilities and slash 15 percent of its North American workforce was a “heavy blow,” before directly calling on President Trump to eliminate steel and aluminum tariffs.
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“And Donald, it's all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said in Argentina, while preparing to sign the revised North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a reporter for The Toronto Star. Trump said he hopes to see the new deal, known as the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement signed by Congress next month.
The closures of five facilities in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and Ontario come as the largest American auto manufacturer looks to cut costs amid restructuring. It could affect up to 14,000 employees. GM will also cease production of several car models, including the Chevrolet Cruze and the Buick LaCrosse.
While talking to reporters, CEO Mary Barra reportedly said GM is making the cuts to “get in front of it while the company is strong and while the economy is strong,” according to Time. She also suggested that Trump-imposed tariffs on imported aluminum and steel have hurt the company.
Trump first announced the tariffs of 10 percent on aluminum and 25 percent on steel in February, and since then, they have been a point of contention for the two world leaders. Trudeau previously called the import tax an “affront”.
"Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable," Trudeau said in May.