Recognizing the absurdities in life can get you through the tough times, and help you appreciate the best times. So, with that in mind, I present to you Ford’s latest contribution to comic relief. It’s a memo to all employees, subject line: “Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Japan.” Read it here.
I don’t know how Jimmy Settles (VP, UAW National Ford Department) and Jim Tetreault (VP, North American Manufacturing, Ford Motor Company) knew we needed a laugh, but mission accomplished, guys. This is some great stuff. Is it meant to be satire? Black comedy? Or a parody of the classic anti-Japan rhetoric we’ve all come to know so well?
Hard to say. But pretty funny.
The memo recently went out to all of Ford’s employees asking them to oppose Japan’s inclusion in the Trans Pacific Partnership’s multi lateral trade negotiations. Japan. The largest economy in the Pacific. Sure, makes sense. All of the points made by Ford and the UAW in the memo are easily refuted and intentionally vague, making it clear that “a level playing field” is not their goal at all.
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s go through this point by point.
- Ford says Japan’s protectionist policies mean the U.S. can only send one vehicle to Japan for every 150 vehicles Japan sends here.
In reality, Japan has ZERO tariffs on imported vehicles. In contrast, the U.S. imposes a tariff rate of 2.5 percent on cars and 25 percent on trucks.
- Ford says Japan manipulates its currency.
In reality, this makes no sense. What do they do? Keep it artificially strong, thus hurting themselves on their exports? Or keep it artificially weak, hurting themselves at home? Which is it? Unfortunately, the memo is hazy on this point.
- Ford says it’s Japan’s fault they can’t sell cars in Japan.
In reality, Ford makes almost no effort to sell cars in Japan. Combined, the Detroit Three operate just 160 dealerships in Japan (having closed 460 since 1996), compared to the European’s 1,300 (having opened 547 since 1996).
Which brings us to . . .
- Ford says European automakers are also hurt by Japan’s policies.
In reality, Europe is doing just fine in Japan, thanks. Its share of the Japanese market is up, in part because its automakers sell the types of vehicles that comprise 89 percent of sales in Japan. That is, those with 2,000 cc or less in engine capacity. European automakers sell 81 of those models in Japan. U.S. automakers sell two.
- Ford says American exports support good jobs at Ford Motor Company.
In reality, that’s true. But so do Japanese automakers. Nearly 70 percent of the cars they sell here are built here. That’s 2.56 million vehicles built in the U.S. in plants worth 34 billion dollars, which employ 407,000 American workers.
At the end of the day, this is all good for a laugh. Unless, of course, it’s not a joke at all. Unless Ford and the UAW actually believe their employees and members will swallow this stuff. That? That’s just sad.
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