German Carmaker Chiefs Meet with Trump

December 04, 2018 at 6:15 PM

Top executives from BMW, Daimler and VW met with U.S. trade envoys and then President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., today to discuss tariffs on cars.

The carmakers, eager to avoid additional U.S. import taxes threatened by Trump, say they emphasized they cannot act as a trade delegation on behalf of the European Union. But they did use the president’s invitation to the White House to emphasize their existing U.S. production capacity and willingness to expand it.

But Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche says the group cautioned that further investment in the U.S. will make sense only when operating conditions there become stabilized. The carmakers didn’t allude to tariffs directly. But their message implied that future investments await a normalization of trade between the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Earlier this year European carmakers proposed that the EU and U.S. drop all import tariffs on vehicles. But Trump has said that ending such tariffs alone would not be enough to satisfy his desire to see shrinkage in the EU’s trade surplus with the U.S.