China's Great Wall Motor eyes North America plant, says policy doubts remain

A Haval HB-03 Hybrid car from Great Wall Motors is displayed at Shanghai Auto Show during its media day, in Shanghai, China April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motor Co Ltd 601633.SS2333.HK is planning to build a plant in Mexico or the United States, the firm's chairman said on Friday, but added an uncertain policy environment meant the details of the plan were still in flux.

Reuters reported last month Great Wall, which says it is China’s largest SUV and pickup maker, was eyeing an auto plant in two Mexican states hit by U.S. President Donald Trump’s drive to make American companies invest at home.

The carmaker’s chairman Wei Jianjun said the firm had looked at three possible states in Mexico and two states in the United States. He added that significant shifts in U.S. policy were having a large impact on the plans for the plant.

“Our plans to go to the American market haven’t changed,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Shanghai. “First we want to see how things work and then make a decision.”

Under pressure from U.S. President Trump to keep jobs in the United States, some carmakers have scaled back or slashed plans to build plants in Mexico. Ford Motor Co F.N in January canceled a $1.6 billion plant in San Luis Potosi.

A senior Great Wall Motor executive told Reuters previously the choice between setting up plants in the United States or Mexico locations would depend on trade issues involving the United States, Mexico and China.

Wei said Great Wall would build plants in Russia as well as North America. He added the firm aimed to sell 100,000 cars globally overseas by 2020, up from 20,000-30,000 vehicles now.

Reporting by David Lin and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore