Trump Wants Mercedes-Benz Off American Streets And He's Playing Hardball

Marsha Scott
June 1, 2018

No U.S. news agency has confirmed Trump's reported remarks to Macron. Macron's administration in Paris declined to comment on the report.

This news follows news last week that Trump had already asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to launch an investigation into the national secret threat posed by imported cars, trucks, and auto parts, as well as wanting to add 25 percent tariffs on imported vehicles.

Germany is the biggest European Union exporter of vehicles to the US, and automakers based there - among them BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen's Bentley, Porsche and Audi brands - account for 90 percent of premium new auto sales in America.

The European Union imposes a 10 percent tariff on cars imported from the U.S. The U.S. tariff on European made cars is now 2.5 percent.

The top German carmakers also own several brands not necessarily always thought of as "German" cars. "I love free trade, but it must be a smart trade for me to call it fair".

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Those brands collectively turned out roughly 804,000 cars from their factories in the US, but also shipped over 657,000 vehicles from Germany to North America, Reuters reports.

Trump's auto tariff is a test of Franco-German solidarity since French carmakers have hardly any USA sales, while German carmakers generate up to 30 percent of global sales there.

German automakers assembled 804,000 cars in USA plants past year but exported another 657,000 to North America from Germany, according to the VDA industry association. That could lead to tariffs of up to 25 percent on the same "national security" grounds used to impose U.S. steel and aluminum duties in March.

But late on Wednesday, talks to avoid a transatlantic trade war showed no sign of a breakthrough. The Mercedes-Benz factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, builds a similar number of vehicles, and just past year parent company Daimler invested $1.3 billion expanding the facility.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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