DETROIT—General Motors Co. is seeing cost increases in steel and aluminum amid uncertainty regarding tariffs and trade with the U.S. However, the company has not delayed any projects or plans.
That's according to GM CEO Mary Barra, who said if uncertainty continues, it "will eventually" have an impact on its operations. She said the company is watching the administration's discussions closely, following President Trump asking the Commerce Department to review whether vehicle imports threaten national security, which would add to levies already imposed on steel and aluminum.
"There's a lot of moving pieces in trade and the auto industry is exceptionally complex," Barra said, speaking to media ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting June 12 at its Renaissance Center headquarters. "I think we need to let the negotiations continue and be completed, and then to see the impact."
Shares of the auto maker have gained 31 percent in the past year to $44.85, close to the highest price GM has achieved since the company's initial public offering in 2010. GM shares on June 12 fell 1.5 percent to close at $44.18.
The gains follow a series of tech deals covering electrified and autonomous vehicles made within the last year. Those have GM finally gaining traction on Wall Street, in terms of price and perception. The clearest and most impactful sign of that evolution was a multibillion-dollar tie-up with SoftBank Vision Fund, a prominent technology investor, on May 31.
That move sent GM shares up almost 13 percent—its largest single-day gain since the 2010 IPO.
Barra said Wall Street's reaction to the deal was "good recognition" of GM's autonomous vehicle plans.
She reiterated that the deal was "more than a financial commitment," it represented a strategic alliance that will allow the auto maker "more flexibility" in deploying capital for its core business.
In the meeting, Barra was briefly interrupted by at least two protesters regarding alleged firings of injured production workers at GM's operations in Colombia—concerns that have been raised in previous years. They shouted, "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now."
Barra, addressing concerns during the meeting's question and answer session, said the claims have been "reviewed thoroughly" within GM and two separate third-party audit firms that found there were "no issues."
"We have personally sent senior executives to Colombia to investigate the claims and we have found them to be without merit," she said. "Our reviews regarding employee health and safety at GM concluded that the GM Colmotores has a safe and healthy work environment."
Meanwhile, all of GM's board-approved resolutions passed by wide margins, according to preliminary voting results released by the auto maker. They included election of directors, officer compensation for named executives and selection of Ernst & Young L.L.P. as the company's independent registered public accounting firm for 2018.