Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Mark Fields warned President-elect Donald Trump's proposal that placing high tariffs on automobiles and other products coming from outside the U.S. would have negative consequences for the auto industry and beyond.

A steep tariff "would be imposed on the entire auto sector and that could have a huge impact on the U.S. economy," Mr. Fields told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Automobility LA car show. "I continue to be convinced that the right policies will prevail because I think we all share the same objective whichis a healthy and vibrant U.S. economy."

Mr. Fields said the company will stick with plans to assemble cars in Mexico, which Mr. Trump has singled out as a serious problem for American workers. The executive said Ford has been in touch with Mr. Trump's transition team as the president-elect prepares to take office in January.

"We have conversations with the transition team," Mr. Fields said. "I've sent a congratulatory letter to the president-elect and we look forward to working with the new administration."

It was Mr. Fields first public appearance since Mr. Trump was elected to the White House after a campaign that often had Ford in its crosshairs for manufacturing its products outside the U.S.

Criticism of Ford reflected a wider concern that the U.S. is losing well-paying manufacturing jobs to countries such as Mexico and China. Mr. Trump has said he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement that came into forcein 1994 and has been widely criticized as encouraging the offshoring of U.S. jobs.

Mr. Trump has also vowed to impose steep tariffs on Ford if the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker carries out its plan to move assembly of its Focus compact car to Mexico from Wayne, Mich. The company has said the move won't result in American job losses.

Mr. Fields reiterated Ford plans to move forward with its Mexico plans that he said will make room for two new products at the U.S. factory.

On Monday night, at a party on Hollywood Boulevard near the Dolby Theatre, Ford unveiled the EcoSport SUV it plans to bring to the U.S. market in 2018. The model will be built in a factory in India that already makes the vehicle for other countries.

Write to Tim Higgins at Tim.Higgins@WSJ.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 15, 2016 13:45 ET (18:45 GMT)

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