Trump invites German automotive CEOs for trade talks

21 November 2018

21 November 2018

US President Donald Trump has invited the CEOs of Germany’s leading three carmakers for talks at the White House.

European and US Government officials are currently trying to negotiate a new trade agreement, following months of uncertainties surrounding the imposing of tariffs on cars imported into the US from Europe.

Trump is planning to meet with the heads of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group after the Thanksgiving holiday on 22 November, according to some media reports. The CEOs are consulting with Berlin before accepting any talks.

For Trump, the talks could be a way to push the EU towards a broader trade deal. Discussions between the two sides have stalled in recent weeks as the US maintains its threat of levying tariffs on vehicle imports and the EU pushes for the imposition of a digital services tax that could hit technology companies such as Apple and Amazon.

Earlier this month, the US President decided to hold off the introduction of tariffs, for the time being, however, officials told the EU Commission that this truce might not last long if they fail to deliver in upcoming trade talks.

A Daimler representative said that the company appreciates the dialogue with the US government but that there’s no confirmed meeting. A spokesperson for BMW said that the company couldn’t confirm that an official invitation has been received and that there are no travel plans to attend such a meeting. A VW spokesperson added that the manufacturer is constantly in talks with political decision-makers and would welcome efforts toward a trade agreement.

In September, Trump rejected the scrapping of tariffs on cars imported to the US from the European Union.

Current tariffs stand at 10% on imports of passenger cars to the EU, whereas US tariffs stand at 2.5%.

The EU has taken the stance that the President’s position ignores the higher US rates on other automotive products, which mainly focusses on larger vehicles. For example, the US currently charges a 25% tariff on trucks and pick-up imports.

′We are willing to bring down even ″¦″‰our car tariffs to zero, all tariffs to zero, if the US does the same,’ Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU trade commissioner, told a European Parliament committee.

Germany’s trade surplus with the US has been a target of Trump’s complaints about imbalances in the global economy. Volkswagen makes the Passat Sedan and Atlas crossover in Tennessee, BMW builds its X line of crossovers in South Carolina, and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz produces the C-class sedans and GLS and GLE SUVs in Alabama.