WASHINGTON Feb 3 President Donald Trump will
huddle with chief executives of major U.S. companies on Friday
as the business community finds itself increasingly split over
how to respond to his policies.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Thursday quit the business
leaders' group, a panel selected by Trump in December, under
pressure from activists over Trump's week-old executive order
halting travel to the United States for people from seven
Executives from Ford Motor Co and Tesla Inc
also criticized Trump's travel ban, but other advisory group
members, including General Motors Co and JPMorgan Chase &
Co have not taken a position.
Trump previously met with executives from the U.S.
pharmaceutical and auto industries as part of a push to step up
U.S. job creation.
U.S. companies of all political stripes want Trump, a
Republican, to fulfill a campaign pledge to slash corporate
taxes, but a schism has developed over how to do it.
The splits highlight business leaders' struggles to navigate
a divisive political environment and a new president who does
not hesitate to use his platform against companies that vex him.
The businessman-turned-politician has threatened companies
that manufacture in Mexico with a 20 percent tax on imports and
needled pharmaceutical executives to make more drugs in the
United States. On Thursday, he publicly cheered South Korea's
Samsung Electronics Co for saying it might build a
U.S. plant for its home appliances business.
Some investors want companies to speak up.
"I certainly don't think investors want people who run
corporate America to be afraid of making smart business
decisions," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich
Securities, said in an interview on Thursday.
The sharpest outcry about Trump's travel restrictions, which
caused chaos and protests at U.S. airports last weekend, came
from tech companies, which have broad concerns about his
Uber criticized the ban but took heat from activists when
its chief competitor, Lyft, appeared more vocal on the issue.
"Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the
president," Kalanick said in a memo explaining why he left
Trump's advisory panel.
Tesla's Elon Musk said in a tweet on Thursday: "In
tomorrow's meeting, I and others will express our objections to
the recent executive order on immigration and offer suggestions
for changes to the policy."
The White House said in a statement on Thursday evening that
did not mention Uber that Trump "understands the importance of
an open dialogue with fellow business leaders to discuss how to
best make our nation's economy stronger."
SPLIT ON TAX REFORM
A more complicated division is developing over taxes. Boeing
Co and General Electric Co on Thursday joined a
group in support of a congressional plan to tax all imports. But
that plan, which does not have universal support among
Republicans, is opposed by many U.S. retailers, which say it
could raise prices for consumers.
Republican leaders say tax reform is a top priority, but
they have acknowledged it could take until the end of 2017 or
longer to finish legislation.
"If I were a company, I'd be worried about tax reform," said
Bernie Williams, chief investment officer at USAA Investment
Solutions, in San Antonio.
The White House meeting with the group, which also includes
leaders of the Cleveland Clinic, PepsiCo Inc and IBM
Corp, is set to cover tax and trade, regulatory relief
(Additional reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston; Editing by