Ford’s commitment to investing in its Ontario facilities has not wavered since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, the head of the automaker’s Canadian operations said Thursday.
“We’re very committed to our manufacturing footprint here in Canada,” Mark Buzzell said in an interview during a media day at the Canadian International AutoShow.
Ford promised last fall it would inject $ 700 million into its Canadian operations as part of a labour deal reached with Unifor, which represents about 6,700 workers at the company’s facilities in Ontario.
That money will go towards Ford’s engine plants in Windsor, Ont., and its assembly plant in Oakville, Ont., said Buzzell, who took over as Ford Canada’s president and CEO last month.
“We’ve got a really good globally competitive situation for us here in Oakville,” Buzzell said, adding that the vehicles it produces there — the Ford Edge, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKT — are exported to more than 100 countries.
In total, the so-called Detroit Big Three automakers committed about $ 1.5 billion in investments to their Canadian operations after weeks of collective bargaining with Unifor.
Since Trump became president promoting protectionist policies, questions have arisen over whether the automakers remain committed to those investments.
Last month, prior to Trump’s inauguration, Ford scrapped plans to build a $ 1.6 billion (U.S.) auto plant in Mexico and shifted investment to the U.S. The company said market forces led to the decision.
Trump has also kick-started efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, spoke of the need to implement border tariffs and withdrawn U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Buzzell said it’s difficult to speculate on how such policies could affect the auto sector, but added that Ford is a big proponent of free trade and believes NAFTA has served it well. He said Ford wants to see trade agreements that are fair, provide an even playing field and prevent currency manipulation.