GM CEO Mary Barra’s meeting with Trump comes at a pivotal time for automaker

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan with General Motors CEO Mary Barra and other auto industry executives on March 15, 2017. 

Nicolas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

A Thursday meeting between President Donald Trump and General Motors CEO and Chairman Mary Barra at the White House comes at a critical time for the automaker’s business operations and automotive industry.

In addition to facing ongoing concerns regarding trade, China and national fuel economy regulations, the Detroit carmaker was selected Tuesday as the lead company over Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler to negotiate new labor contracts with the United Auto Workers union.

All four of those topics are expected to be among the “wide ranging” discussions during the 1:45 p.m. meeting in the Oval Office, according to two people briefed on the meeting. Expected attendees include Barra, Trump, members of GM’s policy team and Trump’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow, according to a White House official and a person briefed on the meeting.

GM declined to disclose specifics of the private meeting, citing “executives meet with policy makers on a regular basis.” The White House confirmed the sit-down after Reuters reported the meeting Wednesday night.

Since Trump was elected to office in 2016, GM and other automakers have routinely briefed him and his administration on their operations — everything from policies to major investment announcements.

The companies, specifically GM, have walked a fine line when it comes to briefing the president. He’s often criticized or commended automakers’ decisions on Twitter — sometimes even before the companies have a chance to announce their own news.

Less than a week ago, Trump attacked GM for its production facilities in China and questioned whether the automaker should move the operations to the U.S.

Trump, in a tweet, said GM, “once the Giant of Detroit, is now one of the smallest auto manufacturers there. They moved major plants to China, BEFORE I CAME INTO OFFICE. This was done despite the saving help given them by the USA. Now they should start moving back to America again?”

Many of the claims in the tweet against the Detroit automaker were misleading or inaccurate, according to industry data and officials. It came a day after Bloomberg News reported GM’s 46,000 unionized workforce in the U.S. trails Ford by about 9,000 and Fiat Chrysler by roughly 1,200.

— CNBC’s Eamon Javers contributed to this report.

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