The wait for definitive clues about President Donald Trump's trade strategy is over.
Minutes after he was sworn in, the new administration declared its intention to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, moves that analysts say could have profound effects on the automotive industry.
If Canada and Mexico refuse "a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal," the statement said, the president will give notice of the country's intent to withdraw from NAFTA altogether.
Trump seized on opposition to NAFTA and other free-trade deals to capture support in traditionally Democratic and union-heavy areas of the industrial Midwest that had been hit hard by manufacturing job losses and the migration of auto factories to Mexico. Both U.S. and Canadian union leaders have attacked the deal.
But industry analysts warn against turning back the clock on a framework that has helped make car production more economical for automakers and shaped investment plans of the global auto industry.
A full withdrawal from NAFTA would cost at least 31,000 U.S. auto jobs and cause vehicle prices to rise, a recent study by the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research found.
Mexican officials have vigorously defended NAFTA, and the tariff-free trade bloc it created in 1994, as crucial to U.S. economic competitiveness. U.S. automakers have repeatedly stressed their support of free-trade deals.
But in recent weeks, all three Detroit auto-makers have made announcements about big investments in the U.S. -- rather than in Mexico -- and appear determined to stay out of the administration's crosshairs.
Trump's nominee to head the Commerce Department is former auto supplier executive Wilbur Ross. In his Senate confirmation hearings last week, Ross signaled that a review of NAFTA would be an urgent priority for the new administration. Ross said NAFTA's weak enforcement provisions had left unfulfilled its promise of improving the standard of living in Mexico and narrowing the gap in labor and environmental standards between the U.S. and Mexico.
That and other failures underlined the need to periodically review and reopen trade agreements, he said.