Peugeot Is Preparing for a U.S. Comeback as Nafta Deal Emerges

(Bloomberg) -- PSA Group, the maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, will decide in the coming months whether to return to the U.S. market, a move that will depend in part on the newly inked North American trade deal.

“We are now preparing for our U.S. comeback,” Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavaras said in an interview on Bloomberg TV, ahead of the Paris Motor Show. The trade accord is part of what the carmaker needs to know before making the final decision, he said, calling the new trade deal “very timely.”

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to sign a successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement that will make modest revisions to a deal he once called a “disaster,” easing uncertainty for companies reliant on tariff-free commerce. The 24-year-old Nafta will now be superseded by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, covering a region that trades more than $1 trillion annually.

PSA has been plotting a return to the American market within a decade -- first with a car-sharing service, then actually selling vehicles -- after leaving in 1991. The company has already started engineering its future models to meet U.S. safety and emissions rules, yet hasn’t decided whether to mount a comeback with the brands Peugeot, Citroen, or its luxury line DS. The French carmaker also owns the Opel and Vauxhall brands, which it acquired from General Motors Co. last year.

“We will adapt our plans and our strategy to the conditions that will be set by the U.S. administration,” Tavares said. Plans won’t be accelerated as the company wants to go step-by-step after learning about consumer expectations and preparing engineering and distribution strategies, he said.

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