President Donald Trump has again singled out German carmakers as part of his continued threats to impose protectionist trade measures. In a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump called on the European Union to “open up the barriers and get rid of your tariffs. And if you don’t, we’re going to tax Mercedes-Benz, we’re going to tax BMW.”
Mr. Trump claims that the EU benefits from unbalanced trade rules. On Saturday, he posted on Twitter: “If they [the EU] drop their horrific barriers & tariffs on US products going in, we will likewise drop ours. Big Deficit. If not, we Tax Cars etc. FAIR!”
Duties on cars imported into the United States are currently 2.5 percent, less than the EU’s 10 percent. But the imbalance goes the other way on trucks and pick-ups.
In response, the German car industry has reminded Mr. Trump that, of the 1.3 million German cars sold in the United States in 2017, some 800,000 were manufactured domestically. Bernhard Mattes, president of the German auto industry association VDA, told Handelsblatt: “Every second car produced by German carmakers in the United States is exported to non-NAFTA countries.”