President Trump has become the most effective user of Twitter in the history of the social network, using it as his favorite broadcast method to preach his views and complaints to the broadest population possible. He has been joined in one of his Twitter comments by Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), who essentially begged the president to help his company with trade problems with China.
The exchange occurred as the president put tariffs on some steel and aluminum imports.
Tesla has said it essentially doubled sales in China to about $1 billion last year, which makes it a very successful luxury car in the world’s largest auto market.
And Tesla has worked with the Shanghai Municipal Government to try to set up a plant in China to produce cars locally.
Most large U.S. car companies already have manufacturing facilities in China, along with large sales. In all cases, the U.S. presence is due to a Chinese rule that car companies must be majority owned by Chinese partners. Among the tension this has caused is that U.S. car companies do not control their own future in China. Some speculate that the allegiance China’s car companies have with the central government puts the fate of the U.S. companies in political hands. Others worry that Chinese car companies can steal the intellectual property of their American partners. In either case, the American manufacturers have risks they do not have in other countries.
Musk’s worries are real. He knows how to address the president in public. Twitter may become one of the most important trade tools American companies have.