Ford critic Donald Trump is investor in automaker

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump — who criticized Ford Motor Co. for plans to build a new plant in Mexico — is an investor in the company’s credit arm, a campaign filing Wednesday shows.

In financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission made public Wednesday, Trump said he holds between $600,000 and $1.25 million in investments in Ford Motor Credit and earned between $17,500 and $55,000 in interest. He also listed a capital gain of between $100,000 and $1 million from the sale of Ford Motor Co. stock.

Last month, Trump threatened Ford with likely illegal punitive taxes if it proceeds with a new $2.5 billion Mexican plant that he said will “take away thousands” of U.S. jobs. Trump vowed to impose 35 percent taxes on imported Ford vehicles and parts coming from the new Mexican plant.

At the time, Trump said he would call Ford CEO Mark Fields — whom he identified only as “the head of Ford” — to explain the “bad news.”

“Let me give you the bad news: every car, every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35 percent tax — OK? — and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction,” Trump said. “They are going to take away thousands of jobs.

In April, Ford said it would add 3,800 jobs in Mexico as part of a $2.5 billion investment — on top of the 11,300 Ford already employs in Mexico. The investment will include a new engine plant and new transmission plant allowing for exports of engines to the United States and elsewhere. Ford has had operations in Mexico for about 90 years.

Asked about Trump’s criticism last month, Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker pointed to the Dearborn automaker’s U.S. investments.

“We are proud that we have invested $6.2 billion in our U.S. plants since 2011 and hired nearly 25,000 U.S. employees. Overall, 80 percent of our North American investment annually is in the U.S., and 97 percent of our North American engineering is conducted in the U.S.,” she said.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement and existing U.S. tax laws, it is not clear how Trump could take such an action unilaterally. Nearly all major automakers already have major plants in Mexico, including Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

Singling out one new auto plant for punitive taxes would almost certainly not be legal under American law. Companies are free to build plants where they want.

Automakers are bypassing the U.S. for new plants in part because Mexico has dozens of free trade agreements around the world, low wages, free or nearly free land on which to build and fewer regulatory hurdles.

BMW AG, Volkswagen AG and its Audi unit, Nissan Motor Co., Kia Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV are among the automakers that have built or announced new plants or plant expansions — part of more than $20 billion in investments made or planned for Mexico since 2010.

In addition to the Ford stock listed in the FEC filing, Trump also holds an investment in Toyota Motor Corp. credit worth between $500,000 and $1 million.

He also reported capital gains of between $100,000 and $1 million from both the sale of General Motors Co. stock and Volkswagen AG through a U.S.-traded equity. He is an investor in Yahoo, Apple, John Deere, Boeing, Chevron, Mastercard, UPS, Costco, Walt Disney and dozens of other firms.

Trump to visit border

Donald Trump, provocateur of the Republican presidential race, now plans to go the Mexican border, a flashpoint in the primary contest ever since he declared that immigrants from Mexico are rapists and drug dealers.

He will travel to Laredo, Texas, on Thursday, where he will hold a news conference at the border, meet members of the union that represents Border Patrol agents and speak to law enforcement officers, his campaign said.