Trump defends Boeing tweet, says companies shouldn't worry

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his direct interventions with companies, including making statements on Twitter, saying businesses will benefit from his actions and his upcoming term in office.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a USA Thank You Tour event at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

One day after criticizing one of Boeing Co’s high-profile projects in a tweet, Trump told NBC that he anticipated “tremendous” economic growth under his administration but reiterated his warning that companies shifting U.S. jobs overseas would have to pay.

Still, markets and companies should not worry, he said.

“I don’t know ... how people are unnerved,” Trump told NBC’s “Today” program. “It’s just the opposite. Frankly, I think we’re going to go up.”

The New York businessman, who has never held public office, begins his term on Jan. 20.

Trump also said he had sold his stocks in June to avoid any conflict-of-interest with the presidency.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be owning stocks when I’m making deals for this country that maybe will affect one company positively and one company negatively,” he said.

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His comments followed a series of actions targeting specific companies, including a deal to keep some Carrier jobs in the United States. On Tuesday, he criticized Boeing in a tweet that dented its shares, and he won pledges from two of Asia’s biggest technology companies to expand their U.S. investments. [L1N1E11W9]

On Boeing, Trump complained about costs for its revamped Air Force One plane, a prominent symbol of the U.S. presidency, and urged the government to cancel its order. [L1N1E110N]

The move was the latest example of Trump’s using his podium, often via Twitter, to rattle companies and foreign countries.

Trump told NBC that he and Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg spoke on Tuesday. “We’re going to work it out,” Trump said. “That’s what I’m here for. I’m going to negotiate prices.”

He also cautioned U.S. businesses against offshoring jobs.

“If they want to fire their workers, move to Mexico or some other country, and sell their product into our country, they’re going to be paying a tax,” he told NBC.

Earlier this month, Trump lauded a deal with United Technologies Corp’s Carrier to keep some U.S. positions in exchange for $7 million in tax breaks following a Thanksgiving Day tweet on the negotiations.

Trump also defended his Twitter posts, telling NBC he used the social media platform to “talk about important things” and that it conveyed his message “much faster than a press release.”

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn