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Auto Execs, President Bush Huddle on Trade

President Bush meets with chief executives from GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler in the Oval Office, urging them to become competitive in a difficult global environment.

In addition to pressure from Toyota and other Japanese carmakers, rising costs for health care and energy, trade restrictions and foreign-currency manipulation make U.S. cars less competitive on the international market.

U.S. automakers have been producing big losses since a spike in gas prices sent SUV and pickup sales plummeting.


The White House hasn't shown much interest in the past, but the industry hopes that may be changing, along with the political winds in Washington.

Earlier this week, Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, indicated that the state of U.S. manufacturing will be a major issue for the new Democratic majority in Congress. Levin accused Japanese and Korean automakers of erecting trade barriers against U.S.-made goods, and said that Japan artificially manipulates its currency to make its products more attractive.

After twice postponing a meeting with the Detroit automakers, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney met with the heads of GM, Ford and the Chrysler Division of DaimlerChrysler. The president called the meeting productive, and said his administration would keep listening.

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