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Oct 2, 2018

Auto parts makers should hug Trump for USMCA: Wildeboer

Martinrea chair: Auto parts sector should be giving Trump and Freeland a hug

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One of the country’s top auto parts executives said representatives on both sides of the border deserve some love for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which removes the threat of damaging auto tariffs on Canada.

“I think that the North American auto parts suppliers should give President Trump and Chrystia Freeland a hug,” Martinrea Executive Chairman and Co-Founder Rob Wildeboer told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Tuesday. “I think this is very good for the North American auto parts sector.”

U.S. President Donald Trump had repeatedly threatened to impose tariffs on Canadian autos and auto parts if a new trade couldn’t be reached. The deal, secured shortly before a midnight deadline last Sunday, ensures Canada won’t be affected by tariffs unless exports top 2.6 million units annually. Wildeboer said the tentative USMCA deal has succeeded where other pacts have not in protecting the North American supply chain.

“We have governments that have come together on an agreement and actually helped the North American supply base as opposed to [having] sold us down the river like previous agreements have done,” he said.

Wildeboer added that the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Canada and other trading partners still need to be dealt with. Vaughan, Ont.-based Martinrea also operates facilities in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Slovakia, Spain and China.

“I think we should deal with that,” Wildeboer said, before proposing a solution from the Canadian side. “I’d be happy, actually, if the Canadians dropped the tariffs on product coming in here so we’re more competitive.”

“I do think we’re not a security risk on steel and aluminum. I certainly sympathize with the Americans saying that, ‘We need a steel industry and an aluminum industry,’ but I would have thought we’re part of the solution.”