Trump talks with Tesla and Apple about making US manufacturing great again

Posted on 25 Jan 2017 by Aiden Burgess, Tim Brown

With Donald Trump now sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America, questions remain as to how the new administration will implement its manufacturing and trade policies and what impact these will have.

One of Trump’s major election pledges was to restore thousands of manufacturing jobs in the US as part of his ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign.

In keeping with his focus on manufacturing, in December, Trump undertook talks with the bosses of two of the most well-known US manufacturers, Apple and Tesla.

Donald Trump claimed that he can bring manufacturing jobs back to America. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
During his election, Donald Trump claimed that he can bring manufacturing jobs back to America. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Cook and Musk sit down with Trump

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, was one of a number of Silicon Valley executives who met with Trump and his transition team for a ‘Tech Summit’ at Trump Tower last month.

‘Team Trump’ and the executives reportedly discussed a wide-range of topics; including taxes, trade, cybersecurity, and immigration.

After the Tech Summit, Trump met privately with Cook and Tesla Motors CEO, Elon Musk, to discuss a range of topics that were not disclosed.

During his campaign, Trump repeatedly talked about Apple and vowed to make the company build its signature products such as the iPhone in the US.

Since his meeting with Cook in December, Trump told Mike Allen, from the website Axious, that he believed that the Apple CEO was open to the potential of increased US manufacturing.

“I really believe he [Cook] loves this country and I think he’d like to do something major here,” the US President said.

“And I told him, I said: ‘Tim, it’s going to be a big achievement the day you start building some of your big plants in this country instead of other countries. And I think he’s got his eyes open to it…”

Musk agrees to advise Trump

Elon Musk met with the President again on Monday (Jan 23, 2017), Trump’s first full day in office, along with several executives who attended the White House to discuss the topic of manufacturing. Reuters’ reporter Roberta Rampton snapped a shot of Musk in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, along with executives from Lockheed Martin, Whirlpool, Under Armour, and Johnson & Johnson.

Tesla is one US company that fulfils the Trump administration’s desire to keep US products manufactured domestically, with the electric car manufacturer currently employing 25,000 workers in the US.

Tesla is also set to invest an additional $350m in its $5bn gigafactory in the Nevada desert, which is expected to create an additional 500 jobs.

Elon Musk discusses how to build the future - image courtesy of Y Combinator and Youtube
Elon Musk believes he has a vision for how to “build the future” – image courtesy of Y Combinator and Youtube.

Musk, could be perfectly poised to deliver on Trump’s mantra for increased US manufacturing, although the pair clash in their strong but opposing views on climate change. Musk, however, has taken up a role as a strategic adviser to the President.

Restoring thousands of manufacturing jobs to the US’s struggling ‘Rust Belt’ communities was one of the key platforms of Trump’s successful election campaign. While talks with major companies will go a long way towards fulfilling this ambitious election promise, neither Tesla or Apple are likely to set up shop in the Midwest anytime soon.

However, in recent weeks companies such as Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors have all announced investments and new jobs at their respective US plants, decisions which Trump claims to have influenced.

Trump on trade deals

Trump this week also withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, a move which came as little surprise. During his election campaign, Trump rallied against international trade deals, blaming them for job losses, particularly in manufacturing. Obama on the other hand had argued that this deal would provide an effective counterweight to China in the Pacific region.

After signing the executive order, effectively “terminating” the TPP, Trump said he would be “going back to those countries one-on-one” to find terms more favorable to the US.

“We are going to have trade but we are going to have one-on-one,” he said. “And if somebody misbehaves, we are going to send a letter of termination – 30 days and they’ll either straighten it out or we are gone.”

It is also expected that Trump will soon attempt to renegotiate the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with Canada and Mexico. But some experts have warned that changes to the Nafta agreement could lead to disruption for the three North American economies “with a long and unnecessary clash over trade” only likely to make things worse for everyone.