WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump met with a dozen prominent American manufacturers, such as Ford Motor Co. and Tesla Motors Inc., at the White House on Monday, promising them he would slash regulations and cut corporate taxes, but warning them of penalties if they move production outside the country.
Trump promised to bring manufacturing plants back to the U.S. during his campaign, and has not hesitated to call out by name companies that he thinks should bring outsourced production back home.
He told the CEOs of Ford, Dow Chemical, Dell Technologies, Tesla and others that he would like to cut corporate taxes to the 15 percent to 20 percent range, down from current statutory levels of 35 percent -- a pledge that will require cooperation from the Republican-led U.S. Congress.
But he said business leaders have told him that reducing regulations is even more important.
"We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent. Maybe more," Trump told business leaders in the Roosevelt Room.
"When you want to expand your plant, or when Mark wants to come in and build a big massive plant, or when Dell wants to come in and do something monstrous and special -- you're going to have your approvals really fast," Trump said, referring to Mark Fields, CEO of Ford, who sat around the boardroom style table.
Fields, in a statement after the meeting, responded: "I come out with a lot of confidence that the president is very, very serious on making sure that the United States economy is going to be strong and have policies, tax, regulatory or trade to drive that. And I think that encourages all of us as CEOs as we make decisions going forward.”
The new president told companies that they were welcome to negotiate with governors to move production between states, but said those businesses that choose to move factories outside the country would pay a price.
"We are going to be imposing a very major border tax on the product when it comes in," Trump said.