August 1, 2018 / 2:10 PM / 19 days ago

GM taps former Trump aide to head lobbying efforts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors Co said on Wednesday it has tapped a former Trump administration economic and trade adviser to head its public policy efforts.

FILE PHOTO: Everett Eissenstat, speaks at a news conference in San Salvado August 25, 2010. REUTERS/Luis Galdamez

The largest U.S. automaker said it hired Everett Eissenstat, who was until recently a senior White House aide on economic and trade issues, as its new senior vice president for global public policy. The 55-year-old Oklahoma native will report to Chief Executive Mary Barra.

Eissenstat’s “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,” Barra said in a statement.

    Eissenstat, who could not be reached for comment, was a deputy assistant to the U.S. president on international economic affairs and deputy director of the National Economic Council until July 6.

He worked for the U.S. trade representative during the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama and was a key adviser to the Republican Trump administration on Chinese trade issues.

“He is a true believer in free trade and the benefits free trade brings to our economy,” Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican, said in a speech in July 2017, speaking about Eissenstat. “The administration and the country are lucky to have such an important asset.”

Ongoing talks with Mexico and Canada to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could have a deep financial impact on GM, as could other trade disputes between the United States and China and the European Union.

Last week, GM blamed higher steel and aluminum costs for a 2018 profit forecast reduction, citing tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.

GM buys most of its steel from U.S. producers, which have raised prices in reaction to the tariffs on imported steel.

In June, GM said it would go ahead with its plan to manufacture the new Chevrolet Blazer SUV in Mexico, despite Trump’s criticisms of U.S. companies making vehicles abroad.

The Detroit automaker also faces concerns about the potential impact from trade worries on pickup trucks it builds in Mexico. In June, GM warned that imposing tariffs on imported cars and parts of up to 25 percent could lead to a “smaller GM.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Jonathan Oatis

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