Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, delivered a passionate speech to the Automotive News World Congress last week, arguing that trade barriers are the primary cause of the auto industry problems in
While Hargrove presented some impressive facts and made some valid points, I don’t agree with his overall conclusion. I believe he chooses to ignore key realities.
“The way to level the playing field is by putting in place some clear rules,” Hargrove said. “There needs to be market access in exchange for market access – the one-way street has to end.”
No argument from me on that point. I’m all in favor of eliminating barriers to free trade.
But Hargrove goes further, arguing that trade and other barriers are what Japanese success is all about.
Really? So it has nothing to do with the Japanese producing high-quality products that customers want to buy?
Hargrove said American automakers are constructing plants in
But is he right? The one thing Hargrove did NOT talk about is that shipping cars across the ocean takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. Even if GM and Ford had an unlimited ability to export cars to
I don’t know all the reasons for that. Undoubtedly, one is that
However, my key contention is that eliminating trade barriers and currency manipulations wouldn’t do much to reverse the erosion of market share and the decline of operations of the
I support Hargrove’s call for a more level global marketplace, and I hope he continues his efforts to make it a reality. But he needs to be more realistic about what can be achieved.