A second U-turn this year by Ford Motor Co in Mexico has raised the specter of Chinese competition for local carmaking, adding to pressure on the industry after repeated threats by U.S. President Donald Trump to saddle it with punitive tariffs.
Ford announced on Tuesday it would move some production of its Focus small car to China instead of Mexico, a step that follows the U.S. automaker’s January cancellation of a planned $1.8 billion plant in the central state of San Luis Potosi.
The scrapping of the Ford plant was a bitter blow, coming after U.S. President Donald Trump had blamed the country for hollowing out U.S manufacturing on the campaign trail, and threatened to impose hefty tariffs on cars made in Mexico.
Since then, rhetoric from the Trump administration has become more conciliatory, and Mexico and the United States have expressed confidence that the renegotiation of the NAFTA trade deal, expected to begin in August, could benefit both nations.
But the loss of the Focus business is an unwelcome reminder of competition Mexico faces from Asia at a time China’s auto exports and the quality of its cars are rising.