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Trump pledges to help U.S. companies stay in America

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Trump spotlights trade issues, and other MoneyWatch headlines 01:07

President Donald Trump said Monday there will “be advantages” to companies that make their products in the United States and suggested he will impose a “substantial border tax” on those that sell goods in the U.S made overseas. 

In a meeting with business executives at the White House, the president also repeated a campaign promise to cut regulations “by 75 percent, maybe more.” Companies wanting to set up factories in the U.S. will see quick approvals, he told them.

Trump's first order of business this week: Business 03:53

The president declared that he wants to reduce taxes for the middle class and for businesses to “anywhere from 15 to 25 percent,” down from the current 35 percent. 

To reap those benefits, he said, the executives to needed to keep operations in the U.S. “All you have to do is stay,” he urged them. “Don’t leave. Don’t fire your people in the United States.” 

On Sunday, bringing some welcome news to the Trump administration, Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world’s biggest contract electronics maker, said it was weighing opening a $7 billion display-making plant in the U.S. Foxconn chief executive Terry Gou made the announcement in Taipei. The firm employs one million in mainland China, making among other things the iPhone for Apple (AAPL). Mr. Trump campaigned on returning manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.

Starting his first official week in the White House following his swearing in on Friday as the 45th president of the United States, Mr. Trump met with 12 corporate leaders in the Roosevelt Room. Among the attendees were Kevin Plank of sportswear apparel maker Under Armour (UA), Elon Musk of electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors (TSLA), Marilyn Hewson of aerospace manufacturer Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Mario Longhi of US Steel (X).

“Busy week planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security. Top executives coming in at 9:00 A.M. to talk manufacturing in America,” he wrote in a post on Twitter. Mr. Trump suggested he wanted to hold these meetings quarterly.

While some criticize Mr. Trump for opposing free trade in preference to tariffs, he said “We don’t have free trade,” because nations like Japan restrict imports.

Mr. Trump has vowed to overhaul America’s trade policy, blaming trade pacts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership for hurting U.S. workers.  

“Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families,” he said in his Jan. 20 inauguration speech. “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.” 

Also this week, Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with congressional Republican and Democratic leaders. 

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