White House seeks more German auto production in U.S.




Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess and chief lobbyist Thomas Steg face reporters as they arrive for a meeting between senior Trump administration officials and top executives of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen. Photo credit: REUTERS

UPDATED: 12/4/18 1:31 pm ET – new story

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials on Tuesday were expected to push senior executives of leading German automakers to expand their investments in the United States as the White House considers imposing new tariffs on European-made vehicles.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow were among those holding meetings with Daimler AG, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG executives.

The White House said President Donald Trump would also meet briefly with the executives — something that had not initially been on the schedule.

The U.S. officials aim “to discuss investment opportunities in the U.S., which includes manufacturing and other forms of investment (including) r&d in new generation technologies,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.

Trump has threatened to impose stiff tariffs on cars assembled in the European Union as part of his “America First” trade policy.

On the way into the White House, Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche told reporters he was “hopeful,” while VW Chief Executive Herbert Diess said he hoped new U.S. tariffs could be avoided. “Let’s wait and see,” Diess said.

Although the European Commission handles trade negotiations on behalf of the common trading bloc, the Trump administration has summoned the auto bosses as part of a campaign to “rebalance” global trade flows.

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