Donald Trump Meets With German Auto Executives Amid Trade War Tensions

U.S. President Donald Trump in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the 2018 G20 summit
Amilcar Orfali / Getty Images

On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump met with executives from three major German car companies — BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen — to discuss investment opportunities in the United States. These opportunities included possibilities for manufacturing, research, and development deals.

As reported by the Financial Post, the meeting comes amid high tensions between the U.S. and the European country over tariffs that Trump has been imposing on major trade partners in recent months.

Trump has been threatening major European countries that import their products to America with massive tariffs, citing the trade deficit that he wrongly believes is owed to those countries by the United States. The U.S. president is hoping that by threatening tariffs, he will force those countries to buy more goods from the U.S.

“When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN.”

In particular, Trump wants to slap tariffs on cars, trucks, and other auto parts being imported from Germany, citing “who doesn’t own a BMW?” as part of the reasoning.

These tariffs could target imports that in 2017 totaled a massive $335 billion. The EU has already warned that if Trump does impose these tariffs he keeps threatening, they will retaliate with approximately $20 billion in tariffs of their own.

While the trade war seemed to be escalating during the summer, the U.S. and Europe were able to come to an agreement to break down those trade barriers and have an open conversation about tariffs before anything was actually imposed.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow were among the advisors that attended the meeting on Tuesday with Trump. The White House has not made any announcement following the meeting.

Prior to the meeting, Kudlow made a statement about the meeting, saying that the administration wanted to speak with the German execs about “a lot of things.”

“I don’t think this meeting or anything else for that matter, right now, is moving toward car tariffs. The president has said it’s in his quiver of arrows, sure, but none of that’s changed.”

On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also explained that the meeting would not be a trade deal, as the car company execs have no authority to negotiate such deals, and America will have to deal with the EU in its entirety on the matter.