Trump to meet German auto executives

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump was set to meet yesterday with executives of Germany's three top auto manufacturers, the White House announced yesterday.

The officials from Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW were due at the White House for meetings with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who is working on a report on whether to impose steep tariffs on imported cars.

Ross said the aim of the meeting was to pare down the US$30-billion trade deficit the US has with Germany in cars and auto parts, which amounts to half the US$66 billion total deficit with the European nation.

“We're trying to get them all to increase their production in the US,” Ross said on CNBC prior to the meeting, noting that German plants are at capacity.

Trump was not initially scheduled to meet with the German executives, but press secretary Sarah Sanders announced there would be a “brief meeting” with Herbert Diess of Volkswagen, Dieter Zetsche of Daimler and Oliver Zipse of BMW.

The US president has for months been threatening tariffs on imported autos, which would primarily hit Germany, but has pledged not to take any steps against the European Union while negotiations are underway following an agreement in July to try to address his complaints about access to the US market.

“The president as you know said he will not impose tariffs on autos on the Europeans as long as negotiations with them are making good progress so the timing of this whole thing will largely be driven by what happens in negotiations,” Ross said.

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