U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has reaffirmed his support for Britain’s decision to leave the E.U., while criticizing NATO and Angela Merkel’s immigration policy.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Times of London and Germany’s largest daily newspaper, Bild, he also expressed disapproval for BMW’s plans to build a new plant in Mexico, warning the German automaker could face a 35-percent import duty for cars not built in the United States. He urged BMW instead to manufacture in American plants.
In response, BMW said it had no intention of canceling its plans, noting the group’s new plant in San Luis Potosi was never intended to produce cars only for the United States. “The plant in Mexico will produce the BMW 3 Series for the world market and be completed in 2019,” BMW’s head of development, Klaus Fröhlich, told WirtschaftsWoche, a sister publication of Handelsblatt.
A spokeswoman for the company had earlier told Reuters news agency that the plant in Mexico would be an addition to existing 3 Series production facilities in Germany and China. The spokeswoman added that BMW is “very much at home in the U.S.,” employing, directly and indirectly, nearly 70,000 people in the country.
Shares in German carmakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen fell more than 2 percent by Monday afternoon in Frankfurt.
Mr. Trump went on to express his indifference to the fate of the European Union and criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, which he described as a “catastrophic mistake,” that had hurt the country. He further characterized the European Union as a German policy tool used to beat the United States in international trade.
As a result, according to the president-elect, Britain was right to want to leave the European Union. “If you ask me, many more countries will leave,” he said. Mr. Trump also warned that people entering the United States will face strong security checks, including some European nationals.
Mr. Trump spoke to both Bild and the Times of London on Friday from his office in Trump Tower. Michael Gove, the former British justice minister who was also one of the key supporters of Britain leaving the European Union, conducted the interview for The Times, while Kai Diekmann, who steps down as Bild’s editor-in-chief this month, conducted the interview for the German newspaper.
The interviews make it clear that Mr. Trump is willing to support Britain and Russia, at the expense of the European Union.
In a continued departure from previous U.S. foreign policy, Mr. Trump added that NATO was “obsolete” because “it was designed many, many years ago.” He faulted NATO’s alleged lack of achievements in fighting terrorism, as well as the unwillingness of certain member states to put more money into the alliance.
In the past, Mr. Trump’s repeated criticisms of NATO have been applauded by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has long complained that the alliance has overstretched its remit. In a further sign of cooperation with Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump also told The Times he wanted to “make some good deals with Russia,” and suggested U.S sanctions may be lifted. He also indicated the possibility of a nuclear arms reduction deal with Russia.
The interviews signal once again Mr. Trump’s willingness to support Britain and Russia at the expense of the European Union. He told The Times he plans to pursue a trade deal with the United Kingdom as quickly as possible, saying “We’re going to work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides.”
Meera Selva is an editor for Handelsblatt Global. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org