Trump invites German car makers to produce more in US
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump has welcomed the top executives of German car makers Daimler, VW and BMW at the White House for a brief meeting in which he invited them to produce more in the US itself to avoid import taxes in the future. Afterwards VW CEO, Herbert Diess, told the press he’s talking with Ford to make a pact to build more VWs and Audis in the US.
Initially Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, Herbert Dies (VW) and BMW’s CFO, Nicolas Peter, had scheduled an appointment with Wilbur Ross only, the US Minister of Commerce. They warned before that they had no mandate to negotiate with the Americans on trade issues, as this is the sole right of the European Union. Something Angela Merkel reminded them too before they left.
Trade deficit of 65 billion dollar
Goal was to talk about the minister’s call to produce more German cars – especially electric ones – locally in the US instead of importing them. Ross did his call a few hours before the German car makers were to meet Donald Trump himself.
In an interview with TV channel CNBC, Ross said this way the car makers could do something about the imbalance of Germany exporting 30 billion dollar more of cars and spare parts to the US than the other way around. Together the German car makers export half a million cars yearly to the US. The trade deficit with the EU as a whole is, according to Ross, some 65 billion dollar.
In a brief statement The White House declared after the meeting that “the President of the United States has shared his wish to see all car manufacturers produce in the US and to offer a more favourable environment to the companies”.
A spokesperson of Daimler told the French press agency that the meeting with the president “was held in a factual atmosphere and focused on each company’s engagement in the US”. He said the meeting with Trump was “very good and very open”.
Daimler says it employs over 34.000 people in North America and has several factories, like in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (cars), Detroit, Michigan (engines and transmissions), but also several truck an bus factories, like in Portland Oregon (Daimler Trucks) and North Carolina (Freightliner and school buses).
BMW to create 1.000 extra jobs
BMW called the meeting in a press release “constructive” and said it has explained to Trump in detail what investments BMW makes in its Spartanburg (South Carolina) where it produces today the X6, X4 and X3 not only for the local market, but for export too.
BMW pointed at the fact that it invested 9,3 billion dollars in the US and is to invest 600 millions more until 2021, adding some 1.000 extra jobs to the existing 10.000 at Spartanburg. BMW’s spokesman also emphasized that it’s “thanks to the free exchange”, the company has invested this much in the US.
VW to join forces with Ford
Volkswagen chief, Herbert Diess, put his oar in by revealing talks with Ford that are in “an advanced stage” for a worldwide pact for sharing production facilities between the two car makers and the ambition to realize a second factory in Tennessee, as VW and Audi need more production capacity in the US.
The final decision has to be taken beginning next year, but Diess said that “several options are on the table”. Beginning November there were already persistent rumours that Volkswagen will collaborate with America’s number two, Ford, on the further development of the electric and autonomous car.