Trump calls Ford building plant in Mexico 'an absolute disgrace'

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said the move by Ford Motor Co F.N to build a manufacturing plant in Mexico "is an absolute disgrace" and shows the need to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

Earlier on Tuesday, Ford confirmed plans to build a plant in San Luis Potosi and an investment of $1.6 billion.

“This transaction is an absolute disgrace,” said Trump’s statement, sent to Reuters by email. “Our dishonest politicians and the special interests that control them are laughing in the face of all American citizens.”

Trump said deals like the one Michigan-based Ford made to build a plant in Mexico “will continue until we can renegotiate NAFTA to create a fair deal for American workers.”

Ford did not have an immediate comment on Trump’s statement, but two weeks ago its chief executive, Mark Fields, said Ford would not back away from foreign investments if they made sense.

“We are a global, multinational company and we will invest to keep us competitive and we will do what makes sense for the business,” Fields said.

Ford currently has more workers and makes more vehicles at its U.S. plants than do Detroit rivals General Motors Co GM.N or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCAU.NFCHA.MI, and has fewer workers and makes fewer vehicles in Mexico than the other automakers.

GM has about 12,000 hourly paid workers in Mexico, while FCA has 9,547 and Ford has 6,191, the companies said on Tuesday.

In the United States, Ford has 55,300 hourly paid plant workers, GM has 54,000 and FCA has 36,600, the companies said.

In 2015, 80 percent of Ford’s North American production came from its U.S. plants while 63 percent of GM’s North American production came from its U.S. plants and for FCA 64 percent of its North American production came from its U.S. plants.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Jonathan Oatis