INDIANAPOLIS — US President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday warned American firms wanting to relocate abroad that they will face punishment.
“Companies are not going to leave the United States any more without consequences. Not going to happen,” Trump told workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis in his first major public remarks since winning the White House.
“They can leave from state to state, and negotiate deals with different states, but leaving the country will be very, very difficult,” Trump added.
During the presidential campaign, the Republican billionaire threatened to slap tariffs on firms that decamped for places like Mexico or Asia where labor costs are cheaper. It became a repeated refrain of his victorious campaign.
Trump specifically singled out Carrier, a brand of United Technologies Corporation, saying he had been encouraging the company not to shift thousands of jobs to Mexico.
If they did, he said his administration would impose major tariffs on Carrier products as they made their way back into the United States.
“But I called Greg (Hayes, UTC’s chairman) and I said it’s really important, we have to do something because you have a lot of people leavingand you have to understand we can’t allow this to happen anymore with our country,” Trump said as he recalled an early exchange with the firm’s top executive.
Under a deal hammered out with the help of Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is Indiana’s outgoing governor, the state offered Carrier $7 million in incentives over 10 years, “contingent upon factors including employment, job retention and capital investment,” the company said in a statement.
Pence said the deal will keep about 1,100 jobs in “the heart of the heartland.”
“This is a great day for Indiana and it’s a great day for working people all across the United States of America,” Pence said.
The deal is seen as an extraordinary industry intervention by a president-elect.
His supporters have described it as the first tangible part of Trump’s jobs creation plan.
But liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders, who challenged Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, said the deal should worry Americans.
Carrier “took Trump hostage and won,” Sanders said in an op-ed he wrote for The Washington Post.
Trump “endangered” other US jobs, Sanders said, “because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives.”
Trump embarks on Midwest
jobs, election victory lap
Donald Trump embarked on a victory lap of Indiana and Ohio Thursday to celebrate his election victory and apparent success in brokering an agreement to keep 1,000 jobs in the Rust Belt.
The maverick tycoon, who upended the US establishment and the world by defeating Hillary Clinton on November 8, made guaranteeing jobs for blue collar American workers a key plank of his presidential campaign.
Casting aside job interviews for senior cabinet positions yet to be filled, the president-elect visited an air conditioning plant in Indiana which he repeatedly leaned on in public not to ship a planned 2,000 jobs to Mexico.
Carrier announced Wednesday that it had agreed to preserve more than 1,000 jobs and would continue to manufacture gas furnaces in Indianapolis, as well as retain engineering and headquarters staff in the Midwestern city.
Trump wasaccompanied by his vice president-elect Mike Pence, who is winding down his official duties as governor of Indiana ahead of the January 20 inauguration, and who also helped to broker the deal.
The announcement was “possible because the incoming Trump-Pence administration has emphasized to us its commitment to support the business community and create an improved, more competitive US business climate,” it said.
“The incentives offered by the state were an important consideration,” it added.
Anthony Scaramucci, an entrepreneur and member of the Trump transition team’s executive committee, told reporters Wednesday that he hoped more companies would follow suit.
“The whole purpose” of the incoming administration’s business platform would be to slash corporate tax rates to make it more competitive for American companies to allocate their capital at home.
“I’m hoping that every CEO in America is getting that beacon signal from the new Trump administration that we’re open for business here in the United States, and we’ve got to get American people back working in American jobs.”
Republican Indiana Senator Dan Coats, who met Trump in New York on Wednesday, said he hoped the Carrier announcement symbolized more to come and that he believed other companies would pay attention.
“Obviously the private sector has issues relative to staying competitive in the world,” he said.
“What it will do is open the door to more thought and perhaps more creative ways of addressing questions like this.”
From Indiana, Trump and Pence are to travel to Ohio to lead a post-election rally in Cincinnati. Trump was the first Republican nominee for president to win the state since 2004.
The evening event at the home of the Cincinnati Cyclones, which can host a crowd of more than 17,000, is expected to be similar to those that drew enthusiastic crowds of thousands during the campaign.
The transition team has dubbed it a “thank you tour.”
While such rallies are untraditional for a US president-elect, Trump often spoke of the thrill of addressing such enormous crowds during the campaign.