Trump also retweeted a suggestion that GM should pay back the money the government spent to keep it afloat as part of the auto industry bailout if it doesn't keep jobs in the country.
He added that his administration was "looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including for electric cars".
"It's very unusual for federal policy to single out one company for different treatment than another company", said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
In its announcement, GM said it would effectively close five assembly and propulsion plants in the United States and Canada in 2019, a reorganization plan meant to make the company "highly agile, resilient and profitable". But by connecting the threat to GM's plans, he could put extreme pressure on other world leaders as they prepare to gather at the G-20 meeting in Argentina later this week.
In a pair of Wednesday tweets, the president pointed to the 25% levies that are placed on pickup-truck imports into the USA, and said this "chicken tax" was the reason why the US small truck business is doing well.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer on Tuesday criticized Trump for "overpromising" as a candidate about protecting against plant closures if he was elected.
The news has sparked widespread backlash, including from President Donald Trump, who threatened to revoke the company's subsidies as a result. Aides said the idea was still being explored, but attention focused on the $7,500 federal tax credit extended to buyers of electric vehicles including the Chevrolet Bolt. In August, U.S. Steel also said it was upgrading its Gary, Indiana plant. He also suggested his administration will look into expanding that tariff to passenger cars to make sure more cars are built in the U.S. The company has pinned much of its future business plan on consumers switching to battery-powered vehicles, promising to roll out 20 new ones globally by 2023.
Many foreign-branded sedans sold in the United States, including Toyota and Honda models, are manufactured locally and theoretically the tariffs Trump proposed Wednesday would not affect them. A total of 6,500 factory jobs will be cut as well.
Lighthizer said China's policies continue to cause "severe harm" to US manufacturers, and "as of yet, China has not come to the table with proposals for meaningful reform".
The restructuring reflects changing North American auto markets as manufacturers continue to shift away from cars toward SUVs and trucks. A Honda executive at the September hearing testified tariffs are hurting the entire auto supply chain, calling the business environment in the US "unsettling". That figure was about 50 percent cars just five years ago.