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Washington — General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra applauded President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday for working to reduce the number of regulations that U.S. companies have to comply with to conduct business in the nation.

Speaking at a panel discussion in Washington about global business trends that was organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Barra said streamlining the U.S. regulatory environment is “one of the most important things that the Trump administration is working on that I’ve seen.

“Right now we actually have competing regulations, where I can meet a more stringent environmental regulation and not meet a less stringent regulation and still be fined hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Barra, who is a member of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. “There are good regulations and we need regulations, but making sure we have the right regulations and that it’s enabling business to move quickly, I think is vitally important.”

Barra identified infrastructure and tax reform as other areas where the Trump administration is improving conditions for U.S. businesses. “I think those are three things, it’s a work in progress. It’s still relatively early, but I think will support growing business,” she said.

Barra was joined on the panel by General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, who is a member of Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. Immelt, who is resigning from his post Aug. 1, said tax reform, infrastructure and regulatory reform aren’t new ideas.

“Those are 30-year-old ideas,” he said. “If we get that done and we can add that to the great entrepreneurial spirit in this country, that would be amazing.”

Immelt said he disagrees with some of the Trump administration’s policies, but he is willing to work with the president on economic issues: “Do I agree with everything? No. But on the big points, I think there’s a chance to make the U.S. more competitive, reducing the trade deficits and get more people back to work.”

Immelt added that his company and other large U.S. corporations can compete on with global competitors without some of the protectionist policies that have been put forward by the Trump administration.

“For companies like GM and GE, we’ve had 70 years of trade deals and stuff like that to get our act together globally,” he said. “We can fight it out on our own outside the United States. We’ve had every opportunity for 70 years, and if you’re a company our age and you don’t have your own global footprint, shame on you.”

klaing@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8735

Twitter: @Keith_Laing

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