GM taps Trump administration insider for policy team
Washington — General Motors Co. has hired a former Trump administration official to lead its international public policy team at a time when it and other carmakers are pushing back against the president's protectionist trade policies.
GM said Wednesday it has hired Everett Eissenstat, who was lead negotiator for the G-20, APEC and G-7 international economic summits. He will be senior vice president for global public policy for the automaker.
Eissenstat, 55, was deputy assistant to the president for international economic affairs, and was deputy director of the National Economic Council from June 2017 to July 2018. He led the White House international economic team responsible for development and coordination of policies related to energy, trade and finance.
He will report to GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.
“Everett Eissenstat has had a distinguished career in public policy managing complex issues around the world,” Barra said in a statement. “His broad experience interacting at the highest levels of government, both within the U.S. and globally, and his track record for partnering and building relationships on both sides of the aisle make him a perfect fit to represent GM and our employees on key policy issues.”
Eissenstat will take over GM lobbying efforts from chief legal counsel, Craig Glidden, who served both the legal and public policy roles until earlier this year. GM spokeswoman Dayna Hart said Glidden will continue as GM’s chief legal counsel.
"With the increased focus and impact of public policy issues specifically related to the auto industry – both in the U.S. and globally – the decision was made to split the roles and appoint an executive dedicated to leading GM’s global public policy efforts," Hart said.
Prior to working in the White House, Eissenstat was chief international trade counsel for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee from 2011-2017. Additionally, he worked with the United States Trade Representative as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Americas from 2006-2011.
Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said GM's decision to tap Eissenstat is a shrewd move.
“This is an excellent appointment by GM," she said. "Who better to represent GM than someone who is familiar with the inner workings of the Trump administration at a time when the industry is being pushed and pulled in all directions by regulatory changes and trade uncertainty?”
Eissenstat's appointment comes as GM and other carmakers have warned against the Trump administration's decision to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, and its consideration of placing additional levies on imported vehicles. Automakers have also pushed back against the Trump administration's effort to force major changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement in ongoing negotiations with Canada and Mexico.
At the request of the president, the U.S. Commerce Department is conducting an investigation of the national security impact of allowing imported cars to come into the U.S. In making the request, Trump cited a section of federal law that allows the president to impose tariffs if he determines a security threat exists.
In comments submitted to the Commerce Department in June in opposition to such a move, GM said: “The threat of steep tariffs on vehicle and auto component imports risks undermining GM’s competitiveness against foreign auto producers by erecting broad-brush trade barriers that increase our global costs, remove a key means of competing with manufacturers in lower-wage countries, and promote a trade environment in which we could be retaliated against in other markets."